J-AIR issues apology for broadcasting interview claiming the coronavirus pandemic was designed to eradicate homosexuality and gays

Radio station J-AIR has responded to our April 2 article Jewish broadcaster J-AIR airs interview stating “the pandemic is an exact designer drug … that will remove … problems … in the form of homosexuality and gays” by issuing the following apology on the front page of their web site:

J-AIR unreservedly apologises for broadcasting and podcasting comments that vilified the gay community in one of its regular programs.

The comments were made by Rabbi Mendel Kessin on the Tamar Yonah Show on Monday, 30 March 2020. Yonah hosts her own show on J-AIR’s sister station in Israel, Israel News Talk Radio (INTR), and Rabbi Kessin’s comment were originally aired on 24 March on the INTR program The Mystical Meaning of the Coronavirus with Rabbi Mendel Kessin. They were re-broadcast on J-AIR on 30 March.

J-AIR president George Banky said Rabbi Kessin’s views were totally unacceptable.

“J-AIR has initiated its complaints procedure in line with ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) and CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) requirements,” Dr Banky said.

“We have taken the podcast off line, and the complaints’ committee has started to review the show’s contents. The outcome of this process will be announced within 30 days, if not sooner. J-AIR is seeking an explanation from Tamar Yonah.

“J-AIR is very aware of its role as a community broadcaster and strictly adheres to the laws of this country, particularly the ones referring to broadcasting as mandated by ACMA.

J-AIR-apology April 3 2020 fullscreen

Aleph Melbourne acknowledge that J-AIR are taking this matter seriously and responding appropriately, and look forward to seeing what further steps are put in place to ensure they do not broadcast content that vilifies LGBTIQ+ people again.

Jewish broadcaster J-AIR airs interview stating “the pandemic is an exact designer drug … that will remove … problems … in the form of homosexuality and gays”

Jewish radio station J-AIR, dedicated to combating hate, broadcasts an interview that vilifies gay men.

Tamar Yonah

On Monday March 30 2020 Melbourne’s Jewish radio station J-AIR 87.8FM broadcast their regular syndication of the Tamar Yonah Show, which included an interview with Rabbi Mendel Kessin.

The full episode of the March 30 Tamar Yonah Show was first posted here but has since been taken down. A backup copy of the podcast can be heard here.

The description of this episode of the Tamar Yonah Show states (in part):

Internationally known lecturer on current events and the Bible, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, joins Tamar Yonah and talks about the meaning behind this worldwide pandemic, what we are supposed to learn, and DO, in order to merit seeing the coming of the Messiah. He talks about the fear of death, atonement, suffering, and the world-wide economic collapse, and tells us how we can protect ourselves, as we enter into the Messianic era. 

Aleph Melbourne has transcribed Rabbi Kessin’s interview commentary from time point 12:46 to time point 14:06:

And basically he’s 98% finished, that’s how close we are to the redemption. Therefore what god wants to do is bring the redemption. However, there are certain problems that must be addressed by god in order for the redemption to actually happen. And what we begin to see is that the pandemic is an exact designer drug, if you want to use that expression, that will remove these problems. Ah, in other words the plague itself is a vehicle, is an instrument, to accelerate the messianic process by removing these major problems. What are they? You see. So therefore what we see is the following. The first major problem is that man has corrupted his nature. There is a tremendous amount of, ah, what’s called immorality in the world today. It’s widespread. There’s, in Hebrew it’s called “prichus” (פְּרִיצוּת). We want, we could say it’s also in the form of homosexuality, and gays and so on and so forth, where all of a sudden the gender differentiation is, is tremendously blurred. So that is an incredible corruption of man’s nature.

Listen to the relevant audio here:

The Tamah Yonah Show – March 30 2020 – 12:46 to 14:06 – Rabbi Mendel Kessin
Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Rabbi Kessin is saying that his god is using the coronavirus pandemic to bring on the coming of the messiah by cleansing society of immorality caused in part by the scourge of homosexual sex between gay men.

This amounts to hate speech that vilifies gay (and also bisexual) men. It squarely lays blame for the coronavirus pandemic at the feet of sexually active gay men.

Broadcasting this language could be problematic for J-AIR as it may fall foul of at least the narrowcasting Codes of Practice, which states:

1.3 Narrowcasters will not broadcast programs which are likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, colour, physical or mental disability, transgender status or HIV/AIDS status…

Significantly for J-AIR, who are currently seeking a community broadcasting licence, this shocking lapse of editorial judgement reflects terribly on the integrity and good character of the station.

Tim Wilson MP

In Parliament on March 2 2020, Tim Wilson MP described J-AIR as “an outstanding broadcasting service …” that “… has begun working closely with the Community Security Group (CSG) to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Victoria…”.

It’s entirely disappointing to see a radio station so dedicated to being both an outstanding broadcasting service and wanting to combat hate, find itself in a position where it is fuelling the fires of hate.

Next time J-AIR supporter Tim Wilson is mid-shtup he might want to take a moment to reflect on how he is, according to Rabbi Kessin, contributing to the kind of immorality that is causing the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time he might also want to reflect on how his praise for an “outstanding broadcasting service” dedicated to combating hate accurately describes a radio station that allows vilification of gay men like himself to go to air.

J-AIR must offer an unqualified and sincere apology, both on air and in writing, for this grave mistake and also provide air time for an in-depth interview covering the harms of intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people.

More importantly, while it still has a licence, J-AIR must comply with broadcasting standards, set the highest standard, and never again broadcast hate speech.

Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities respond to COVID-19

A collection of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities.

Responses to COVID-19 from the Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities

Thorne Harbour Health (Victoria)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update and advice for people living with HIV [Feb 28 2020]
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Mar 12 2020]
Update on COVID-19 for PLHIV [Mar 16 2020]
Sex, Intimacy and Coronavirus [Mar 17 2020]
PrEP & COVID-19

ACON (New South Wales)
ACON Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement [Mar 15 2020]
Trans and Gender Diverse People and COVID-19 [Mar 18 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Casual Sex and Social Distancing [Mar 20 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON services, programs and events [Mar 23 2020]
Sex in the Era of COVID-19 [Mar 24 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON Regional Services [Mar 26 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON Head Office Opening Hours [Apr 3 2020]

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations / National LGBTI Health Alliance
LGBTI people, health and COVID-19 [Mar 17 2020]

Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation [Mar 20 2020]

Hares & Hyenas Bookshop (Victoria)
UPDATE FOR CUSTOMERS & SUPPORTERS [Mar 19 2020]

Minus18 (Victoria)
COVID-19 UPDATE FROM MINUS18 [Mar 20 2020]

Living Positive Victoria
Coronavirus update and advice for HIV positive Australians [Feb 28 2020]
COVID-19 Update for People Living with HIV [Mar 17 2020]
COVID-19 is changing the way we interact with you [Mar 25 2020]

Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Information for Victorian Jewish Communal Leaders on Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Mar 17 2020]
Information for Victorian Jewish Communal Leaders on Coronavirus (COVID-19) – UPDATE 2 [Mar 18 2020]

Executive Council of Australian Jewry
ECAJ Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic [Mar 12 2020]
Community response to Coronavirus [Mar 17 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #1 [Mar 20 2020]
COVID-19: ABC’s Dr Norman Swan with a special message for the Australian Jewish community [Mar 23 2020]
What coronavirus means for our school-kids, seders, and saftas [Mar 24 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #2 [Mar 27 2020]
Coping with isolation, fear and anxiety in a time of Coronavirus [Mar 29 2020]
NSW Jewish community opens Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to support community during coronavirus pandemic [Mar 31 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #3 [Apr 3 2020]

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies
NSW Jewish Community Response to COVID-19 [Mar 18 2020]
COVID-19 pandemic: Message from Board of Deputies President Lesli Berger [Mar 26 2020]

Union for Progressive Judaism
Union for Progressive Judaism Statement on Coronavirus [c Mar 12 2020]

Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand
Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand Statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 [c Mar 12 2020]

Temple Beth Israel (Victoria)
COVID-19 update [Mar 18 2020]

Leo Baeck Centre (Victoria)
LBC Weekly Update 11 March 2020

Jewish Care Victoria
COVID-19 Helpline

Community Security Group (Victoria)
Information on COVID-19 for communal leaders [Mar 23 2020]

Jewish Care (NSW)
JCA Announces COVID‐19 Jewish Emergency Relief Fund [Apr 2 2020]

This page will be updated as further information comes to hand.
We invite readers to contact us with relevant community information.

Jewish community submissions to the Religious Freedom Bills

Jewish community submissions to the first and second exposure drafts of the Religious Freedom Bill

Religious Freedom Bills – First Exposure Drafts – Submissions


Religious Freedom Bills – Second Exposure Drafts – Submissions


Please contact us if you become aware of any other relevant submissions for this page.

VIDEO: Jews of Pride 2020

A compilation of videos showcasing the “Jews of Pride” contingent at Pride March 2020.

The “Jews of Pride” contingent came to life again at the 25th Pride March, February 2, 2020.

Enjoy this compilation of clips taken from the day showcasing the diversity of Melbourne’s Jewish community, celebrating LGBTIQ+ people and our families.

Compilation:
SKIF shows who can dance (0:22)
Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC) (2:09)
Queer South Asian dancers (2:17)
The truck starts and a proud Jewish mum rushes out (2:25)
Ute-cam: Music, meet contingent. Let the fun begin! (2:57)
Quick dance routine in street (7:32)
Street dancing and the contingent (7:37)
SKIF & Habo dance (12:56)
Rounding final corner out of Fitzroy Street (13:47)

Participating organisations:
Aleph Melbourne, Australian Jewish Democratic Society, Habonim Dror, Jewish Care Victoria, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Keshet Australia, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (VIC), SKIF, Temple Beth Israel, and Zionist Federation of Australia.

"Jews of Pride" huge success at 25th Pride March

MEDIA RELEASE
FEBRUARY 3 2020
“Jews of Pride” huge success at 25th Pride March

Jews of Pride at 2020 Pride March
Jews of Pride at 2020 Pride March

Returning for the third year in a row, the award-winning Jews of Pride contingent brought song, dance and festivity to the streets of St Kilda, as part of the 25th annual Pride March, on Sunday February 2 2020.

Fielding it’s largest contingent ever, over 140 people came together representing ten organisations from the Jewish community proudly made their way along Fitzroy Street, to the tunes of traditional and Israeli music pumping from a brightly decorated sound truck, in support of LGBTIQ+ people and families.

Lead organisers Colin Krycer and Michael Barnett, having spent months planning the contingent, were overjoyed that a greater breadth of organisations from the Jewish community joined participated. First time attendees included the National Council of Jewish Women VIC headed up by President Miriam Bass, Zionist Federation of Australia headed up by CEO Ginette Searle, and Australian Jewish Democratic Society headed up by David Zyngier.

Contingent stalwarts included SKIF, Habonim Dror, Temple Beth Israel, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Aleph Melbourne and Keshet Australia.

Jewish Care, returning for their second year, added two brightly decorated minibuses to the contingent, allowing an inclusive opportunity for those who could not walk along the parade route.

The weather was magnificent, breaking the trend of searingly hot days in recent years, and escaping flooding downpours the day prior, with blue skies and warmth adding to the joy of the event. Onlookers were thrilled with the Jews of Pride, many offering Mazal Tovs and L’chaims.

Although there has been a strong Jewish presence in Pride March for all of its 25 year history, this year’s Jews of Pride contingent saw more community leaders, community organisations, families and supporters standing up for the inclusion, celebration, acceptance, visibility and respect of same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people, and rainbow families.

Jews of Pride will return in 2021, bigger, better and more beautifully Jewish.

Further comment available:
Michael Barnett
michael@aleph.org.au
0417-595-541
Pronouns: he/him/his
Colin Krycer
colin@aleph.org.au
0411-441-691
Pronouns: he/him/his

PHOTO GALLERY (31 high-res photos)
Credit to Michael Barnett
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dymdzf4io5idjpc/AACxWXf751__wk74PIZhKIwha?dl=0
Note: photos will be available for a limited time

END

Media Release: Jews of Pride returns to Pride March in 2020

MEDIA RELEASE
SUNDAY JANUARY 12 2020
JEWS OF PRIDE RETURNS TO PRIDE MARCH IN 2020

The biggest ever Jews of Pride contingent will come together on Sunday February 2 at the 2020 Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne.

Over ten supportive groups from the Melbourne Jewish community will comprise Jews of Pride as we proudly stand up for and celebrate equality for all LGBTIQ+ people.

In 2018 Jews of Pride was awarded the “Most Fabulous” group in Pride March: https://aleph.org.au/2018/02/18/jewish-contingent-awarded-most-fabulous-in-2018-midsumma-pride-march

Last year the collective energy of 100 people created an unsurpassed Jewish presence in Pride March: https://aleph.org.au/2019/02/06/jews-of-pride-at-midsumma-pride-march-2019

This year, after months of planning, Jews of Pride returns with renewed enthusiasm, a fantastic fresh look, a bigger sound system and refreshed playlist, and our largest ever number of groups from the Jewish community. Participating organisations include:

  • Aleph Melbourne
  • Australian Jewish Democratic Society
  • Habonim Dror
  • Jewish Care Victoria
  • Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
  • Keshet
  • National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic)
  • SKIF
  • Temple Beth Israel
  • Zionist Federation of Australia
  • and more!

We invite the entire Jewish community to join Jews of Pride and celebrate Jewish trans and gender diverse, intersex, same-sex attracted people, rainbow families and allies, in the most fabulous, dynamic and festive contingent, as we pump out upbeat music and dance our way along Fitzroy Street.

Be part of the fun and meet us at the marshalling area, corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street between 10 and 10:30 am for the 11am march start. Jews of Pride is in Wave G, position 16.

Jews of Pride Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1361418940707508
March order: https://www.midsumma.org.au/info/midsumma-pride-march-2020-marching-order

Enquiries: Michael Barnett | michael@aleph.org.au | 0417-595-541

World AIDS Day – Communities Make the Difference

Thorne Harbour Health logo

1st December 2019

World AIDS Day – Communities Make the Difference

As the 1st of December is upon us, not only does it mark the start of a promisingly hot Summer, it marks World AIDS Day, with this year’s international UNAIDS theme being “Communities Make the Difference” and for Australia specifically, “Every Journey Counts.”

It is possible this presents two questions for you – What is World AIDS Day about? How has and how can the Jewish Community make a difference on this journey?

Firstly, World AIDS Day is a day for the community to support people living with HIV, to commemorate the lives we have lost to the AIDS pandemic caused by HIV and to raise awareness around the globe on the issue. HIV looks very different now than it did 35 years ago when the first cases were reported.

Becoming HIV positive was perceived as a death sentence because we knew so little about it and how to treat it. The virus would weaken the immune system to the point where it could not fight off an otherwise regular infection such as a cold, and it would move into an AIDS diagnosis, especially if exposed to more than one infection. Since the first cases were reported 35 years ago, 78 million people have acquired HIV and 35 million of them have died from AIDS-related illnesses.

Australia’s response to HIV and AIDS is considered to be one of the best in the world. We led the way with the incredible advancements and uptake of evidence-based treatment and prevention strategies. The implementation of needle and syringe programs removed HIV from largely affecting the injecting drug using population. The annual AIDS diagnosis in Australia has fallen from 953 cases at its peak in 1994 to about 50 cases in recent years. Currently, there are approximately 900 new infections each year, and with 28,500 people living with HIV, the vast majority never move to having an AIDS diagnosis, but instead live long, happy, productive and healthy lives.

We didn’t get to this place because we stopped having sex, stopped having babies, or used condoms every single time we had sex. We got here through relentless advocacy and enduring grass-roots activism. We got here through educating ourselves and each other about sex, gaining support from the government and community leaders to have open conversations about it, wide spread health promotion campaigns, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing testing, implementing harm reduction strategies and of course major advancements in biomedical prevention.

One of the reasons Australia has done so well in reducing HIV transmissions is because of the wide range of prevention strategies available where individuals can choose what works for them. To name a few options available, they could be using condoms and lube, increasing testing frequency, taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) which is an HIV medication you can take to prevent yourself from acquiring HIV, or PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) which you can take within 72 hours after you think you’ve been exposed to HIV. There is also using an undetectable viral load (UVL), where someone who is HIV positive and on treatments has a viral load (aka the amount of virus in the body) so low that it cannot be detected by current tests. A positive person with an undetectable viral load cannot pass on the virus. This is the most effective prevention strategy available. It has been studied in large scale clinical research trials around the world, and is endorsed by the World Health Organization, The American Centre for Disease Control, and the Australian Medical Association.

The latest research has shown that if a person living with HIV is on proper treatment, they can live normal healthy lives and have a life expectancy similar to that of an HIV negative person, given all other lifestyle factors are the same. If HIV is no longer the death sentence that it once was, nor is it the scary and unknown disease brought by the grim reaper any longer, then why is HIV treated so differently? Why is there so much baggage associated with the virus when we utter its name, despite how far we’ve come? It doesn’t matter how you look at it, misinformation, judgement, stigma and discrimination will only ever cause more harm than good.

HIV is a virus and it doesn’t discriminate. There is a lack of education around how HIV is transmitted, which is in fact quite difficult as the blood of a person living with HIV needs to enter directly into the bloodstream of an HIV negative person in order to be transmitted – the virus cannot live outside the body. Then there is of course the harmful misinformation around things like it being a “gay disease”. Other than the stigma and physical impacts any infectious disease carries, more severely, stigma can be attributed to the disproportionate number of gay and bisexual men it affected over the course of the past three decades. Due to the biological, cultural, religious, social, behavioural and legal factors, HIV swept across the gay community like wildfire at the start of the pandemic and we were losing young gay men to AIDS too quickly to even understand what was going on. The gay community was in shock, under-resourced, afraid, and dying. The world’s initial response wasn’t to run to our aid, stand by our side and support our brothers. Instead, we were made to feel ashamed of who we were, discriminated against, pushed further into isolation resulting in severely impaired physical, mental and social health outcomes.

When anyone goes through a trying time, physically, mentally or even just trying to survive in a sometimes harsh and unjust world, their greatest lifeline is their community. The beliefs and attitudes of a person’s community and its leaders can make them or break them. It can change their world from a place they’d rather not live in, into a loving, caring and supportive one, where we can proudly embrace our humanity.

When HIV was faced with judgement, stigma and discrimination, it was the perfect recipe for devastation to ripple throughout the world, resulting in the global AIDS pandemic. It wasn’t just gay and bisexual men who were affected by this. In other parts of the world, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters were affected just as much. When any one of them were too sick to stand up for themselves and too tired to keep on fighting, it wasn’t just their peers who stood by their side, their communities stood strong to support them, advocate for them, fight with them and cry with them.

It is this sense of understanding how HIV has affected the world and people living with HIV that we come together on World AIDS Day. This then leads to the second question around the theme for World AIDS Day this year – Communities Make the Difference.

How has and how can the Jewish Community help make the difference in changing the world for the better?

Religious leaders and faith-based communities play such a significant role in how an individual feels about themselves, their healthcare-seeking behaviour, the support they receive, their resilience and their individual make-up on the whole. It is harder to talk about things like HIV and AIDS in more conservative cultures or faith-based communities because it tends to be related to sex, homosexuality and sin. This relationship between the two topics is a rudimentary assumption from misinformation and one that is anchored in discrimination.

In the Jewish faith, amongst many faith-based communities, it is declared as a cardinal sin if two men engage with each other sexually. However, on the other hand, the obligation to provide appropriate care for the sick is seen not only as one of the most universal obligations in Jewish law, but in fact an opportunity to emulate the Divine Attributes.

We can assume that there would be some positive experiences and some negative experiences growing up Jewish and gay. Some people may have been excluded from communities, families and from their faith whilst others may have been embraced. It can be difficult to get to an understanding of the complexities of believing in your faith and trying not to feel ashamed, but instead trying to reconcile the two so that you can be a proud person of Jewish faith and a proud gay or bisexual man.

Religion can play a central role in who we are, what we believe in and how we engage with each other. So, what do we do when we feel differently and conflicted with what our religion tells us? What do we do when we feel differently and conflicted with what our community is telling us? What do we do when we feel differently and conflicted with what our family is telling us?
We persevere.
We stay authentic to our true selves.
We move forward.
We reconcile our faith and our sexuality into the being of one person. It can take some time to get there, and everyone’s journey is individual, but it is something that we can all share in. By supporting our own communities of the LGBTIQ rainbow and our faith, we can come to a place whereby we support each other and help each other through the hard times. It is that community that we create that makes a difference!

There isn’t a need to discard faith because of who we are! There is no need to disregard who we are because of our faith! We can be both people and we can become stronger because of it! It is through this strength that the Jewish community has been part of the response to the HIV epidemic, and because of community groups such as Aleph Melbourne, that we can express our true selves, both from a sexuality and faith perspective.

When we look outwards, there seems to be some contradictory things, which is not unusual when it comes to community, faith and sexuality. The Israeli Defence Force officially supports openly gay soldiers, and has done so for over 20 years. Tel Aviv is considered one of the most gay friendly cities in the world. So why is there often hate towards the LGBTIQ community from leaders of faith, including the Jewish faith? Is it just an evolving change in attitudes that leads some people to try and hold onto established beliefs? Is it through a lack of education and awareness? What do you think it is? What is your experience?

Regardless of any debate, HIV does not discriminate and it affects everyone. Unfortunately, there is a lack of more specific data in Australia around HIV and the Jewish community, but in Israel, the cases of new HIV notifications dropped from 148 in 2017 to 123 in 2018 amongst gay and bisexual men who have sex with men. In fact, the increase in the overall number of HIV notifications between those years were entirely attributed to new cases amongst women, going from 115 in 2017 to 142 in 2018.

At the end of the day, HIV and AIDS predominantly affects the most vulnerable and marginalised populations across the world, whether it be indigenous people, refugees, women, children, those living in poverty, gay men and bisexual men, migrants or injecting drug users. They are the ones who have the least power and bear the brunt of the impact.

In light of World AIDS Day, it is important to remember that communities really do make the difference. Compassion, social acceptance, advocacy and access to emotional and spiritual support are some of the ways communities could help change the landscape of HIV and AIDS across the world – things that an individual can only get from their community.

Thorne Harbour Health is very eager to work with the Jewish community, to understand better how to best serve all LGBTIQ individuals in their overall health and wellbeing and make this a reality. We have Jewish volunteers across the organisation in Peer Education, policy development as well as one off events and are always open to developing new opportunities of engagement.

Remember, communities make the difference!

For now, let us celebrate, commemorate and advocate this World AIDS Day together.

Thorne Harbour Health

Resources:

[1] HIV in Australia : Annual Surveillance Short Report, University of New South Wales, Sydney; Kirby Institute. Sydney, NSW (2018).

[2] Number of New HIV Cases Up for Second Year in a Row. Toi Staff. (Published 16th July 2019).https://www.timesofisrael.com/number-of-new-hiv-cases-up-for-second-year-in-a-row/
Accessed 27th November 2019

[3] Fact Sheet – World AIDS Day 2019. UNAIDS (2019).
https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/UNAIDS_FactSheet_en.pdf
Accessed: 27th November 2019

[4] HIV and Stigma in Australia : A Guide for Religious Leaders, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations. Newtown, NSW (2013).


This article was commissioned by Aleph Melbourne for World AIDS Day 2019, and written and researched by Thorne Harbour Health Health Educator Jessie Wong.
A PDF version of this article can be downloaded here.

The Queer Sessions at JIFF 2019

As the 2019 Jewish International Film Festival rapidly approaches, be sure to check out the festival’s rich programme. Amongst the festival’s offerings are three queer-themed films, screening at various locations in Melbourne and Sydney, as detailed below.


Family in Transition

“Defies expectations.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Amit, a father of four living in a small town in Israel, tells his wife, Galit, that he is a woman and wants to transition. Galit pledges her support, ready to overcome surgery, social stigma and bureaucracy to maintain her marriage. But as Amit transforms, tensions arise while everyone in the family readjusts to understand themselves and each other anew. In the process, Galit must redefine her own identity and what it means to be a parent, a spouse and a lover.

Winner Best Israeli Documentary at the 2018 Docaviv Film Festival.


Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life

“A quantum leap in the work of one of Israel’s leading documentary filmmakers.” – Haaretz

Jonathan Agassi is one of the world’s most successful gay porn stars. The director Tomer Heymann (Mr Gaga) followed him for eight years, both in his temporary hometown of Berlin and back in Tel Aviv with his mother. Alongside his acting, he performs in live shows and works as an escort.

Offering a rare and intimate look inside what is often a taboo world, Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life also gives us access to the unique relationship between a mother and son who courageously redefine familiar family concepts. 

Contains sex scenes and nudity.


Where’s My Roy Cohn?

“A diabolical public figure mesmerizes from the grave.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Roy Cohn was one of the most controversial and influential American men of the 20th century. An only son born to a Jewish family in the Bronx, Cohn is best known for being Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel, prosecuting Esther and Julius Rosenberg, and for influencing the career of the young Queens real estate developer Donald Trump. He was a closeted man who refused to publicly identify as gay even as he was dying of Aids.

Explosive and scathingly delicious, Where’s My Roy Cohn? is a thriller-like exposé that reveals the workings of a deeply troubled master manipulator.