Australian Jewish organisations demand end to cruel treatment of ‘boat people’

Australian Jewish organisations demand end to cruel treatment of ‘boat people’ 

Seven years have now passed since the then Australian government announced that all people seeking asylum who arrived on unauthorised boats would be processed offshore and that none would ever be resettled in Australia, a policy that has been continued by all Australian governments since. 

A July 2020 report by the Refugee Council of Australia shows again the immense suffering thus caused for thousands of despairing men, women and children, including self-harm, 12 deaths offshore, by suicide or for want of medical care, and other deaths while in limbo in Australia. Despite the passage of seven long years and expenditure of $7.6 billions of taxpayers’ money, hundreds of people still remain trapped in Papua New Guinea or Nauru or, having been brought to Australia for proper medical care, are in detention and not receiving it. 

Only last century, thousands of Jews fleeing persecution in Europe were denied entry to other countries, or escaped only by recourse to ‘people smugglers’. As a result, all states, including Australia, now have obligations under the Refugee Convention of 1951, its 1967 Protocol, and international humanitarian law, to receive people who claim asylum because of well-founded fears of persecution and to process their claims expeditiously and compassionately. Australia has repeatedly breached those obligations and shamefully continues to do so in respect of the asylum seekers still in Papua New Guinea and Nauru or evacuated for medical reasons and detained in Australia. 

Together with many fellow Australians, we demand that our Government take immediate and effective action to resettle these people safely and give them some hope again in what remains of their interrupted and damaged lives. 

Signed as of 30 July 2020 

Aleph Melbourne | Ameinu Australia | Australian Jewish Democratic Society | Betar Australia | J-Greens (Vic) | Jewish Labour Bund Melbourne | Jewish Lesbian Group Victoria | Jews for Refugees (Australia) | Jews for Refugees (Sydney) | Jewish Voices for Peace & Justice (NSW) | Kehilat Koleinu | Habonim Dror Australia | Hashomer Hatzair Australia | Inner West Chavurah | Meretz Australia | Music for Refugees | NIF Australia | Progressive Judaism Victoria | SKIF

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Australia’s Human Rights Scorecard: Australia’s 2020 United Nations UPR NGO Coalition Report

UPR – Australian NGO Coalition Submission – domestic publication version – July 2020

Aleph Melbourne is a signatory to the sections of this report that address sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).


SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION, AND SEX CHARACTERISTICS 

Since 2016, Australia has recognised marriages between two people regardless of gender.52 States have amended laws to make it easier for legal gender to be changed,53 to allow adoption by couples regardless of gender,54 and to expunge convictions for historical homosexual offences.55 Some states may soon prevent so-called ‘conversion’ practices which seek to eliminate or suppress the affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities.56

Despite such reforms (and sometimes accompanying them57), discrimination, harassment and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and bodily variations in sex characteristics, remain prevalent.58 

Within 18 months, Australia must: 

  • advance reforms in remaining states which impose unjust hurdles (including requirements for surgery) on people seeking official identity documents reflecting their gender;59 
  • implement recommendations on ending harmful practices (including forced and coercive medical interventions) to ensure the bodily integrity of children with intersex variations;60 
  • ensure access to redress, independent affirmative peer support and psychosocial support for people with intersex variations and their families;61 
  • capture SOGIESC data62 in its 2021 national census and other significant collections to provide a robust evidence-base for future public policy and government interventions; and 
  • implement effective measures to reduce SOGIESC-based bullying, harassment and violence, particularly targeted at youth.63 

EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION 

Australia protects against discrimination through multiple inconsistent and overly technical anti-discrimination legislation. Australia’s piecemeal approach does not provide remedies for intersectional discrimination, and creates significant exceptions and barriers to individuals bringing complaints. 

Australia must enact a comprehensive Equality Act that addresses all prohibited grounds of discrimination, promotes substantive equality and provides effective remedies, including against systemic and intersectional discrimination. 

Religious discrimination is not currently addressed by standalone federal discrimination law. In 2019 the federal government released a draft Religious Discrimination Bill. The proposed Bill goes far beyond protecting against religious discrimination and provides people and faith-based institutions with a licence to discriminate on religious grounds, including when delivering healthcare. The Bill privileges religious views over patient health needs, and removes existing anti-discrimination protections, including for women, people with disabilities, SOGIESC, and people from minority faiths. 

Australia must not enact the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill. 


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Voice, Treaty, Truth – Jewish organisations reaffirm support for First Nations Australians

Voice, Treaty, Truth – Jewish organisations reaffirm support for First Nations Australians from the heart

We recognise the deep moral and political significance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in our own hearts.

Jews have also experienced the deep silence that follows atrocity and genocide, the experience of being abandoned by humanity, the struggle for recognition of confronting truths, and the tormenting powerlessness of not being heard.

In this year of 2020, which marks the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the British in Australia and dispossession of its original inhabitants, it is very important to recognise how much work and structural change is still needed to heal the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The health crisis this year in Australia is but one of many issues that highlight the continuing vulnerability and powerlessness of First Nations in their own country.

We reaffirm our full-hearted support for:

  • amendment of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution;
  • establishment by legislation or letters patent of a Makarrata Commission to oversee a process of truth-telling about our history as a path to reconciliation between First Nations and other Australians and to oversee the making of agreements between First Nations and Federal and State governments.

Despite what has happened over the past 250 years, the First Nations of Australia have shown great dignity, patience, tenacity and generosity of spirit, inviting all Australians to walk with them to create a fuller expression of our shared nationhood.

We accept the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart with gratitude and pledge to work with First Nations, all Federal and State politicians, local and city authorities, religious, ethnic and civil society organisations, business leaders and our fellow citizens in moving together towards a better future.

All Australian Jewish organisations are invited to declare their support for this statement during 2020 and the following have done so as at 27 May 2020, the 53rd anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and three years after the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart:

ALEPH Melbourne, Ameinu Australia, Australian Union of Jewish Students, Betar Australia, Emanuel Synagogue, Habonim Dror Australia, Hashomer Hatzair Australia, Inner West Chavura, Jewish Labour Bund, Jewish Voices for Peace & Justice (NSW), Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Jews for Refugees (Victoria), Kehilat Nitzan, Meretz Australia, Music for Refugees, Netzer Australia, NIF Australia, North Shore Temple Emanuel, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Progressive Judaism Victoria, SKIF, StandUp

View statement PDF here.

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Voice, Treaty, Truth – Jews support First Nations Australia

MEDIA COVERAGE

Discrimination Under the Cover of Corona | Alastair Lawrie

The third potential outbreak which concerns me is anti-LGBT vilification. That is, attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals – and the LGBT community more broadly – claiming that we are somehow responsible for promulgating the coronavirus, or deserving of infection because of our supposed ‘sinful lifestyles’.

This is not a hypothetical fear, either. At the start of April, Melbourne Jewish radio station J-AIR broadcast the following homophobic and transphobic comments from a Rabbi Kessin:

But there is also no anti-LGBT vilification coverage in Victoria[iii] (meaning the earlier comments on a Melbourne Jewish radio station were likely lawful), or in Western Australia, South Australia or the Northern Territory.

“Discrimination Under the Cover of Corona” by Alastair Lawrie; May 16 2020

Jewish community submissions to Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections

Aleph Melbourne, together with other Jewish Community organisations, have provided submissions to the Victorian Government Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections.

Details of the inquiry, along with links to the submissions, are presented here.


Terms of Reference

Received from the Legislative Assembly on 12 September 2019:

An inquiry into current anti-vilification laws, their possible expansion, and/or extension of protections beyond existing classes to the Legal and Social Issues Committee for consideration and report no later than 1 September 2020.

The Committee should consider: 

1) The effectiveness of the operation of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (the Act) in delivering upon its purposes;
2) The success or otherwise of enforcement of the Act, and the appropriateness of sanctions in delivering upon the Act’s purposes;
3) Interaction between the Act and other state and Commonwealth legislation;
4) Comparisons in the operation of the Victorian Act with legislation in other jurisdictions;
5) The role of state legislation in addressing online vilification.
6) The effectiveness of current approaches to law enforcement in addressing online offending.
7) Any evidence of increasing vilification and hate conduct in Victoria;
8) Possible extension of protections or expansion of protection to classes of people not currently protected under the existing Act;
9) Any work underway to engage with social media and technology companies to protect Victorians from vilification.

Terms of Reference – Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections


Submissions

The following submissions have been accepted by the Committee:

# 26. Jewish Community Council of Victoria
# 38. Online Hate Prevention Institute [supplementary submission]
# 55. Australian Jewish Association [supplementary submission]
# 57. Union for Progressive Judaism
# 58. Aleph Melbourne [supplementary submission]


Hearings and Transcripts

 Past Hearings:

Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Meeting room G.1, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne

TimeWitnessTranscript
12:45pmJewish Community Council of Victoria
Jennifer Huppert, President
 Transcript

Wednesday, 27 May 2020
Meeting room G.6, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne and via videoconference

TimeWitnessTranscript
1:30pmAustalian Jewish Association
Dr David Adler, President
Ted Lapkin, Executive Director
 Transcript

Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Meeting room G.6, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne and via videoconference

TimeWitnessTranscript
11:20amUnion for Progressive JudaismN/A

Tuesday, 25 June 2020
Meeting room G.6, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne and via videoconference

TimeWitnessTranscript
12:50pmExecutive Council of Australian JewryN/A

Aleph Melbourne endorses Australia’s 2020 UN UPR NGO Coalition Report (Australia’s Human Rights Scorecard)

#ausUPR Australia's Human Rights Score Card

Media Release
Over 200 organisations outline human rights concerns at outset of COVID crisis

Report

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NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei passed at Plenum April 16 2019

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei passed at Plenum on April 16 2019.

RESOLUTION

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies:

  1. Reaffirms its policy and that of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ):
  • calling for respect for the sanctity of the lives and dignity of all people; and
  • opposing any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  1. Joins with the ECAJ and:
  • deplores the recent criminalisation of same-sex relationships between consenting adults under Brunei’s Syariah Penal Code, with punishments ranging from whipping and imprisonment through to death by stoning;
  • condemns the government of Brunei for introducing a law that mandates the brutal repression, persecution and death of LGBTIQ people;
  • commends Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong, among others, for publicly expressing to the government of Brunei their strong opposition to the new law; and
  • calls on the Australian government to make known its opposition to the legally-sanctioned persecution and vilification of LGBTIQ people to the governments of all countries in which such persecution and vilification occurs.

Macnamara Candidates Forum – Question on Discrimination in Religious Schools – April 7 2019

Macnamara Candidates Forum – 2019 Federal Election – Question on discrimination in religious schools

Great Debate Macnamara 2019 banner

The Great Debate: Macnamara (at Glen Eira Town Hall)

AUJS and the AZYC, in partnership with the Australian Jewish News, are proud to present The Great Debate for the federal seat of Macnamara.
In the lead up to the federal election, it is vitally important for our community to ask questions and receive answers about the most pressing issues concerning us. This year, we’re giving YOU the power to ask those most burning questions on your mind. We’re opening up submissions now, so click here to submit your questions.
Venue will be announced closer to the date.
Confirmed to attend are:
Josh Burns (Labor)
Kate Ashmor (Liberal)
Steph Hodgins May (Greens)
This event is open to members of our community of all ages. We’re looking forward to stimulating debate and thoughtful dialogue!

Question by Michael Barnett:

“What is your party doing to ensure that all students, and also all teachers and other staff members, at religious schools are fully protected from both direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or intersex status?”

Listen to the question followed by responses from Steph Hodgins-May (Greens) @ 1:10, Josh Burns (ALP) @ 2:19, and Kate Ashmor (Liberal) @ 3:47:


Live-blogging via Galus Australis Community:

Al M Fein Michael Barnett asking a question about religious discrimination against LGBTQI people.

Hannah Aroni Next qu: what is your party doing to ensure all students and teachers at religious schools are protected from direct and indirect discrimination re their gender, sexuality or intersex status

Al M Fein People in the audience are talking and giggling. How gross. But good applause.

Hannah Aroni Clarifying this is about uniforms, bathrooms, discrimination re parents, hiding relationships or identity, being forced to attend religious ceremonies w hurtful statements

Al M Fein Steph Hodgins May talking about support for Safe School and oppose religious based discrimination.

Al M Fein Talking more about funding mental health.

Al M Fein Huge applause.

Hannah Aroni Steph noting Greens are long time advocates of safe schools and oppose teacher exemptions from protection against discrimination. Also coming back to mental health funding and hoping to continue working w schools and community to keep kids safe. Big youth applause on that!

Al M Fein Josh Burns talking about most of the Jewish schools making statements condemning homophobia.

Hannah Aroni Josh referencing statements from many specific Jewish schools re not wanting the power to discriminate, saying he’s happy about that, saying we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against students or staff.

Al M Fein Josh sinking the boot into Scomo for bringing religious based discrimination back – funding a Pride Centre in St Kilda

Al M Fein Kate Ashmor talking about being in the Midsumma Pride rally.

Hannah Aroni Josh saying last year the PM sent kids home after reversing onthis issue. Says people should imagine kids going home for summer thinking about that. Noting in this electorate 82% voted for marriage equality, noted Labor commitment to building Pride Centre in St K

Al M Fein And Kate says she voted ‘yes’ in the marriage equality debate BUT she’s saying that she will ensure freedom of religion – and institutionalised homophobia.

Al M Fein Talking about funding in the budget for mental health – to applause.

Hannah Aroni Kate saying she voted yes bc as a Lib she supports freedom and human rights. But saying freedom of religion is a cornerstone of the comm and that parents should be able to choose the values taught in schools and saying she will be a strong voice for that. Saying she was happy w the 720 mil funding and 30 new headspace centres, 4 new ED clinics

Hannah Aroni Being pulled back on this to topic by the moderator. Moderator correcting Kate – Kate tried to claim changes to law didn’t pass parliament bc labor refused, Mod says no, this was bc Libs refused to pas Lab changes

Hannah Aroni Kate saying she supports law to protect students, but stands w the PM re teachers and is … wow how do I do justice to this

Al M Fein More men yelling over women.

Hannah Aroni She’s going on about not being a typical pollie and the crowd thinks she’s full of shit, and Josh has pushed back to say this shows where she stands on the issue

Al M Fein Josh just put Kate back in her box after she claimed that she was talking shit because she is not a ‘staffer’

Hannah Aroni Next qu is about pill testing and harm reduction re drug users

Standing in solidarity with the Muslim community in Christchurch

Aleph Melbourne stands in solidarity with the Muslim community after the Christchurch shooting.

Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the unthinkable act of hate perpetrated against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand.  We offer our unconditional love and sympathy to the friends and families of those who lost their lives, and our deepest concerns and well-wishes to those injured.

Our communities have been inextricably united by crimes against our humanity, whether due to the religion we practice, our sexuality, our gender or gender identity, the colour of our skin, the language we speak, our country of birth, or the clothes we wear.

Orlando was an act of homophobia

Pittsburgh was an act of antisemitism.

Christchurch was an act of Islamophobia.

None of these make sense.

We must hold our governments to account.  They have used us as a political wedge to further their own agenda, creating division and fear in the broader community.

We must ensure that they collectively stand up and decry those who promote bigotry and intolerance, starting from within their own ranks.  They must also not abuse us by gaining political advantage from our pain and suffering.

Gun laws must be tightened everywhere.  Racism must be condemned.  Bigotry must be called out.

Our hearts have been broken.

Our humanity has been shattered.

Our communities have been fractured.

Please accept our hand of friendship and our love during this painful time and forever.

Religious Freedom Review: ECAJ ‘cautiously welcomes’ findings + Schools reject discrimination | AJN

See also:

ajn-20181221-p5 ECAJ cautiously welcomes findings + Schools reject discrmination

ECAJ ‘cautiously welcomes’ findings

December 23, 2018

THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has “cautiously welcomed” the long-awaited release of the Religious Freedom Review and the federal government’s response.

The government has endorsed 15 of the 20 recommendations in the report, which was handed down in May but only released last week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government plans to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act, employ a Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission and look to introduce a range of other amendments.

The issue of whether religious schools should be allowed to discriminate based on LGBTI+ status has been deferred for the time being.

“Discrimination on the basis of a person’s identity – including their religious identity – is unacceptable … we [also] respect the right of religious institutions to maintain their distinctive religious ethos. Our laws should reflect these values,” Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter said last week.

“Our commitment to striking an appropriate balance is clear. We are committed to finding a way forward that cuts through the political debates about whether some rights are more important than others.”

ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim said that although the roof body believed religious freedom in Australia is not under threat, “as both an ethnic and a faith community we support the government’s intention ‘to further protect, and better promote and balance, the right to freedom of religion under Australian law and in the public sphere’.”

He said there “should be little controversy” about the endorsed recommendations, but did say the introduction of a Religious Discrimination Act will be more contentious.

“On the one hand the legislation will prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity … on the other hand there will be similar exemptions to those in other anti-discrimination legislation,” he said.

“In practice, however, some difficult situations may arise in which one or the other principle will have to give way, and where no broad social consensus exists as to which principle ought to prevail.”

Wertheim added the creation of the Freedom of Religion Commissioner role was “good sense”.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director of community affairs Jeremy Jones said the government would have a “difficult task trying to get the correct balance between protecting the right of all Australians to enjoy religious freedom while also trying to ensure that we can have full and robust discussion on matters of concern”.

GARETH NARUNSKY