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

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Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen lost his honorary position at Monash University for using his Monash email address to campaign against marriage equality

Cowen v Monash University (Review and Regulation) [2018] VCAT 694 (11 May 2018)

What is this proceeding about?

  1. In 2015, Dr Shimon Cowen, an alumni of Monash University (Monash) had held honorary positions with Monash for many years. Over the years he had undertaken specific tasks for payment. In 2015, he held an Adjunct Research Associate position with Monash’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (the Centre).
  2. Dr Cowen was also the Director of the Institute for Judaism and Civilisation (the Institute). The Institute has no affiliation with Monash University.
  3. In early December 2015, Dr Cowen used his Monash email account to send to a group of municipal councillors a booklet which he described as, “a comprehensive briefing on [same-sex marriage] from the standpoint of the Judaeo-Christian tradition.”
  4. Two local councillors raised issues with Monash via email.
  5. One asked whether the Vice-Chancellor condoned the publication of what the councillor viewed as “blatant bigotry and homophobia” from a University email account (the Complaint). The Councillor copied the Complaint to Dr Cowen.
  6. The other councillor advised Monash that Dr Cowen was “still using his” Monash “email address to lobby municipal councillors”. I refer to this below as ‘the Notification’. Dr Cowen does not seek the name of the ‘notifier’.
  7. The University investigated the issue. The outcome for Dr Cowen was most serious. Monash’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts (the Dean) declined to continue his ongoing honorary appointment, in the context that at the time Monash was in the process of appointing him to an Associate position.
  8. The Dean’s email advising Dr Cowen of the outcome said this action was taken because Monash had received “several complaints” concerning his use of his Monash email address to lobby members of the community concerning same-sex marriage in relation to his activities associated with his Institute, with the implication that the Institute is associated with Monash.
  9. Dr Cowen appealed that decision to Monash’s Vice-Chancellor.[1] In a short 12 January 2016 email she advised she had considered Dr Cowen’s letter of appeal and the broader issue. She confirmed the Dean’s decision, saying she was aware of and endorsed that decision at the time it was made.
  10. Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), Dr Cowen requested copies of all:
    1. Complaints received by the of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office and/or the Dean’s Office relating to his use of his Monash email account; and
    2. Correspondence to and from the Dean’s Office, and to and from the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, relating to revocation of his appointment as affiliate of Monash’s Faculty of Arts.
  11. Monash released to Dr Cowen a set of redacted documents. Dr Cowen sought review of that decision by the then Victorian Freedom of Information Commissioner. When the Commissioner did not make a decision within the requisite timeframe, Dr Cowen sought review at VCAT on the basis that his request was taken to be refused.
  12. In March 2017, the issue came before me for hearing. Dr Cowen represented himself. Monash was legally represented. I heard the case and reserved my decision.

The offending email sent by Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen:

On 11 Dec 2015, at 11:46 AM, Shimon Cowen <shimon.cowen@monash.edu> wrote:

Dear Councillor,

With the impending plebiscite on same-sex marriage, I thought it helpful to set out a comprehensive briefing on this matter from the standpoint of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

This took the form of a short booklet of talks which I, as a Jewish Rabbi (and son of a former Governor General of Australia, Sir Zelman Cowen), gave under the auspices of a Christian University, Campion College, in NSW. It sets out what I think is a shared perspective of the Abrahamic (Jewish-Christian-Islamic) faiths and perhaps wider yet.

I mailed the booklet to a number of Victorian Municipal Councillors. In the event that you did not receive a copy, or overlooked one which may have come in the mail, and would now like one please let me know. I received requests for some 100 copies from Councillors in NSW.

Even though you as a councillor may not be making statements on this matter, since you are close to networks of “grassroots” Australia, I thought you might be interested to see and share this material.

Please email me if you would like me to mail you a copy of this booklet at no charge. It is called “There is more than this…” I would be happy to send you more copies should you want them.

Yours Sincerely,
Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen,
Director, Institute for Judaism and Civilization


au_cases_vic_VCAT_2018_694

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Jewish Care Victoria and JCCV partner to support ban of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy

JCV-and-JCCV-LGBTQ-conversion-therapy-joint-submission-media-release


JCCV-JCV-Conversion-Practices-Submission-Final


Media Release
Submission

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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.

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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.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Aleph Melbourne acknowledges Victorian birth certificate reforms

MEDIA RELEASE
Aleph Melbourne acknowledges Victorian birth certificate reforms
August 28 2019

On August 27 2019 the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill
2019 (VIC)
passed in the Victorian State Parliament.

In essence this legislative reform will allow transgender and gender diverse Victorians to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without having to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

This simple reform will make a huge difference to the lives of those people who are currently unable to easily align their birth certificate with their affirmed gender.

The Jewish community, along with other communities across the state, will benefit from this reform, as its trans and gender diverse people can start living fuller, more meaningful lives, participating in activities that other people take for granted.

Aleph Melbourne commends these reforms, but also notes they are substandard to the recent Tasmanian reforms that made gender optional on birth certificates.

More information: Ygender: Birth Certificate Reform 2019

Aleph Melbourne Contact: Michael Barnett / michael@aleph.org.au / 0417-595-541

About Aleph Melbourne: Aleph Melbourne is a social, support and advocacy group for same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people (and allies) who have a Jewish heritage, living in Melbourne, Australia.

Media:

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David Southwick mistakenly admits he is a champion of LGBTIQ equality

David Southwick, “champion of equality” and “proud supporter of the LGBTIQ community”

David Southwick voted against birth certificate reform

BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES REGISTRATION AMENDMENT BILL 2019Page 63
15 August 2019ASSEMBLYSecond readingDavid Southwick

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (12:18:48): I rise to make some comments on the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2019 and note from the outset that there are many sensitivities, debate and some wideranging views in this legislation that is before the house. I also want to say that as somebody that has been a very proud supporter of the LGBTIQ community, when it comes to equality—whether it be of sex, race or religion—I have always sought to champion these causes. There have certainly been some very strong contributions made today, and very much the member for Oakleigh talked about ideally not being having labels and treating everybody as individuals, as one and all the same. I would certainly hope we get to a day when we can do that and we do not have to pass laws because of inequalities of action. But there are aspects of this bill that certainly the opposition has issues with, and there have already been contributions from some of my colleagues that have raised some of these issues. Firstly, can I say the issue of gender identification and the support for the rights of individuals to live their lives the way they wish to live according to their gender identity is certainly something that I support, but this is more than just gender identification; it does go to the crux of some of the laws that exist. As many have stated, there is a clear difference between how people identify their gender and how legal records are kept in the case of birth certificates. Birth certificates exist to record a person’s record of birth, and birth certificates are intended to record biological sex rather than gender identity. They are used for a whole range of record keeping through a number of different government agencies for a whole range of planning and so on in terms of the historical record of somebody’s sex at birth. The actual legislation is to amend the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 to remove the requirements for somebody that has undergone sex affirmation surgery while allowing for applications to alter birth certificates also on behalf of children. Basically what this does is allow for self-identification of gender. Essentially we debated this bill back in 2016, and there has also been some commonwealth equality legislation that has been added to since then. Clause 8 looks at a person changing their sex without having to undergo affirmation surgery and how this works, with an application done in good faith. Also the bill permits application for a child’s record of sex to be altered in their birth registration. As with adults, children are not required to undergo treatment as part of this process. Also, where there is a dispute the court will be satisfied that the change is in the child’s best interests. As part of the briefing I understand the department advised that the test used to change the sex descriptor closely follows the process used for changing your name for administrative convenience, notwithstanding the fact that changing your name or your sex are two very different propositions, particularly when you are changing legal documents. Clause 13—and this is where I want to spend a bit of time in terms of my contribution—deals with changes when it comes to both adults and juveniles in detention and under supervision, such as prisoners and parolees who make an application to alter their recorded sex. As the Shadow Minister for Police, Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Shadow Minister for Corrections, this is something that I think is very important for us to spend some time with. The only additional condition is the prior approval of the supervising authority—for example, the Adult Parole Board of Victoria—who is to consider the application’s reasonableness, including the security, safety and wellbeing of applicants and others. This is a very sensitive area. I will also say at the outset that the trans community is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to community safety, both in the community and corrections facilities. We have seen a number of incidents in corrections facilities where a trans member has been attacked. Certainly there are a number of concerns for authorities when it comes to this. Also, in terms of the changes, concerns around looking at tracking sex offenders, prisoners and those on parole have been raised. On the provisions for serious sex offenders, prisoners and parolees, the information has been vague and lacks a lot of detail when it comes to this bill. There have certainly been a number of cases that have been raised. I know the Canadian case of trans woman Jessica Yaniv, who took 16 beauticians to the Human Rights Tribunal for refusing to wax her scrotum in a Brazilian wax. I know that has been raised. But there have been some even more specific issues in terms of within the prisons themselves. I note that prisons must balance the welfare of transgender offenders with offenders, particularly women, whose safety could be threatened by prisoners who were born male. An example that I want to cite is Karen White in the UK. Karen White was a convicted paedophile who now identifies as a woman. She assaulted two prisoners while in a women’s jail in 2017. This is absolutely a case where the safety of those in the prison was certainly not dealt with well. As Richard Garside from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies says, ‘We have a clash of rights’, and it is balancing those rights which is really, really important. But community safety should always be paramount in terms of whatever we look at. The member for Ripon raised a number of issues around women’s groups and women’s rights. I also note the comments I have received from the Victorian Women’s Guild, particularly around equal opportunity and protecting single-sex spaces—very, very important issues. Also, as the member for Ripon said, there are not many jurisdictions that have gone down this path, and it is great to be a leader in some respects in terms of what you do, but when you are changing such important legislation as this, it is important to have very broad consultation. I note that a number of those women’s groups were not properly consulted on this. We just need to make sure we get things right. We talk a lot about equal opportunity in this place and we talk a lot about trying to balance things when it comes women, and I think it is important that we have that proper consultation. Back to justice, interestingly enough what the UK prison system has done since the Karen White issue is set up a transgender wing, looking to resolve the clash of women’s rights. The prison service reckons there are about 139 transgender inmates in England, and they must balance the welfare of transgender offenders with those other prisoners, particularly women, whose safety could be threatened by prisoners who were born male. It cited the Karen White incident and has gone as far as to actually look at a prison system that protects both the transgender community and the broader community as well. These are really important issues that I raise, because in the justice system we do quite often see people that are very, very vulnerable. We do need to make sure that all of those processes are properly considered to ensure that people’s safety is absolutely paramount. These are some of the things we should be exploring. We need to understand in this Parliament when we change laws what the consequences are, and ensure that those consequences are always protected in terms of community safety. There is no doubt we need to do more. We need to do more in terms of equality, we absolutely need to do more in terms of the LGBTIQ community and we need to do more in terms of discrimination in a broader sense. But the issues in terms of this bill are certainly some that need further exploring to ensure that there are those safeguards and to ensure that we have got things right, because at the end of the day, when it comes to these sorts of situations, we do not get a second chance.

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16-yr-old brutally stabbed by his own brother | J-Wire

16-yr-old brutally stabbed by his own brother

July 28, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk

The Jewish LGBTIQ+ community in Australia has responded with “shock and revulsion” to news of a brutal attack against a 16-year-old youth at a LGBTIQ+ youth hostel in Tel Aviv on Friday. 

Tel Aviv stabbing scene Pic: Twitter

According to reports, a teenager was seriously wounded just outside the hostel when he was stabbed in the chest and leg, apparently for religious reasons, by his own brother.

The incident comes within days of the 10th anniversary of the murder of a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl and the injuring of at least fifteen others, most of them minors, at the “Bar-Noar” LGBTIQ+ youth centre in Tel Aviv on 1 August 2009.   It is also five years since 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.

Commenting on the latest incident, Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said, “The attack on a resident at an LGBTIQ+ youth emergency centre is a chilling reminder of how much harder we need to work to break down the intolerance and ignorance that exists in many communities”.

“The 2009 attack in Tel Aviv was the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in the Jewish community in Australia, and as a result our community has come to value the importance of including and embracing its LGBTIQ+ people” Barnett said.  “We are a better, stronger and more cohesive community as a result, although we also know there is much more work to do.  Beliefs and attitudes that incite hate and violence are never acceptable, and we must call them out in all their forms.  Our thoughts are with the injured boy and wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, described Friday’s stabbing as “extremely disturbing”.

“Israel has made great strides in recent years in encouraging respect for and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people, and it is light years ahead of neighbouring countries”’ Wertheim said. “But there is still a long way to go. In Israel, as elsewhere, LGBTIQ+ people still face all too frequent acts of violence motivated by hatred in a social climate that is inflamed by bigoted statements from people in positions of authority.  We hope the young man who was attacked makes a full and speedy recovery and that his ordeal serves to spur political and religious leaders to greater efforts to stamp out anti-LGBTIQ+ violence, and the hatred that gives rise to it.”

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Joint LGBTIQ+ community statement in support of religious discrimination protections

We, the undersigned LGBTIQ+ advocates, organisations and allies, place on the public record our support for protections from discrimination for people of all faiths, and for people who don’t hold religious beliefs, provided these laws do not sanction new forms of discrimination against others.

As members of LGBTIQ+ communities, we have seen and experienced firsthand the immense harm discrimination causes. Discrimination has a devastating impact on physical and mental health, and an individual’s sense of acceptance and belonging.

We strongly believe that no one should be treated as ‘less than’ because of who you are or what you believe.

For more than forty years, we have advocated for the removal of discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. We have stood in solidarity with women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and many others in their fight for equal treatment under the law.

So too we stand with all people of faith in their fight against discrimination because of their religious beliefs, including discrimination against people because they don’t hold religious beliefs. We recognise and acknowledge the many LGBTIQ+ people of faith, and the positive steps taken by many faith groups and schools to model genuine inclusion, showing how the rights of all can be integrated harmoniously.

We call on the Australian Parliament to introduce laws that appropriately strengthen that shield of protection for people facing discrimination because of their religious beliefs or because they don’t hold religious beliefs.

Equally, we caution the Australian Parliament against laws that would give some people within society a ‘sword’ to use their beliefs to harm others by cutting through existing anti-discrimination protections.

We will oppose any new laws which would give religious groups a license to discriminate against others in a way that would sanction mistreatment or wind back the clock on equality.

And we will continue to call for the removal of existing laws which allow religious schools to exclude and discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers across the country, and from critical government funded services.

Australia has long prided itself as being the land of the fair go. Australians have consistently demonstrated that they value equality before the law – as shown by the overwhelming majority who voted YES during the marriage equality postal survey, including people of faith.

Australia is well on the path towards becoming a more equal place, and we support fair and balanced protections from discrimination for all people which move us forward on this journey.

Signatories:

  1. ACON
  2. ACT LGBTIQ Ministerial Advisory Council
  3. Activate Church
  4. AIDS Action Council
  5. AIS Support Group Australia
  6. Aleph Melbourne
  7. Amnesty International Australia
  8. Australian Catholics for Equality
  9. Australian Council of Social Services
  10. Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
  11. Australian Marriage Equality
  12. Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland
  13. Bisexual Community Perth
  14. Curtin University Centre for Human Rights Education
  15. Democracy in Colour
  16. Equal Voices
  17. Equality Australia
  18. Equality Gilmore
  19. Equality Tasmania
  20. Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW
  21. GLBTI Rights in Ageing
  22. Goulburn Valley Pride
  23. Human Rights Law Centre
  24. Intersex Human Rights Australia
  25. Just Equal
  26. LGBTI Legal Service
  27. Minus 18
  28. National LGBTI Health Alliance
  29. Parents of Gender Diverse Children
  30. PFLAG Tasmania
  31. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  32. Queensland AIDS Council
  33. Queer Society
  34. Rainbow Families NSW
  35. Rainbow Families Victoria
  36. Rainbow Territory
  37. Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church of Western Australia
  38. South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance
  39. Stonewall
  40. Switchboard
  41. The Equality Project
  42. Thorne Harbour Health
  43. Trans Folk of WA
  44. Trans Health Australia
  45. Transcend Support
  46. Transgender Victoria
  47. Twenty10
  48. Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network
  49. Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby
  50. Welcoming Australia
  51. Zoe Belle Gender Collective

Download the joint statement

Source: https://equalityaustralia.org.au/media-release-50-lgbtiq-organisations-and-allies-from-every-state-and-territory-support-affirming-religious-discrimination-bill


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UPDATE from Equality Australia – July 19 2019:

This week, we released a joint statement, signed by more than 50 organisations representing LGBTIQ+ people, people of faith, people of colour, women and our allies.

We understand that some religious organisations have targeted and discriminated against LGBTIQ+ people, and this continues today. They have done this largely with impunity and legal exemptions from some anti-discrimination laws. We utterly condemn this behaviour and will continue to advocate for fairer, stronger protections against discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people.

We do not know exactly what will be in the Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Act. We have a fair sense of what might be included, and where religious lobby groups want the laws to go further. And we have been calling for the details of the bill to be released to prevent confusion and fear about what it might contain.

But we can state what we want – fair protections from harmful discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people and people of faith, as well as freedom from religion.

We stand firm with people of colour and people of faith in their need for fair and affirming protections from discrimination. There can be no doubt that people from religious minorities and people of colour are under attack in Australia – white supremacy is one of the most violent and prevalent threats faced by these communities, and we will stand with them in their fight against persecution.

We know that most Australians believe in fairness. At the same time, there is a vocal but dangerous minority which seeks to attack others under the guise of religion – including increasing targeting of trans and gender diverse communities.

Our opponents have no scruples in trying to divide LGBTIQ+ communities from people of colour and faith communities. When we buy into the their tactic that this is about Christians versus LGBTIQ+ people, we lose. We ignore the LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and pretend they don’t exist. We accept that the ACL and other minority views speak for ‘all’ Christian people, which we know to be false.

These debates are scary for all of us. We understand that. Especially for those of us who were raised in unsupportive faith communities, and understand how some people of faith view LGBTIQ+ people like us.

But buying into the ACL’s frame means we are fighting on their terms, the one they’re trying to win in the LNP party room.

We are stronger when we stand with our allies – with affirming people of faith who welcome LGBTIQ+ people into their congregations, with people of colour who marched alongside us for marriage equality, with women who are also being targeted for ‘religious exemptions’ around access to reproductive healthcare.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from affirming faith groups and multicultural organisations about their experiences of discrimination. We ask that you listen to the stories of LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and continue to take care of each other during these debates.

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MEDIA RELEASE: In memory of Anton Hermann

Aleph Melbourne is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Anton Hermann in a cycling accident on July 6 2019.

Anton was Vice President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV). In this capacity Anton was key in formulating the JCCV apology to Aleph Melbourne in April 2019 – an apology in response to the JCCV voting to reject Aleph’s membership to the JCCV 20 years earlier, in May 1999.

Anton was proactive in listening to the concerns of Aleph (including meeting with Aleph representatives Michael Barnett and Shaun Miller) and also reviewing the minutes of the JCCV meeting from May 1999 at which Aleph’s membership to the JCCV was rejected.

Anton came to understand the hateful and hurtful language of some delegates at the JCCV meeting of 20 years ago, and the long term negative impact this had on many LGBTIQ people in the Jewish community and also on their allies.

With conviction, compassion and consensus, Anton ensured that the JCCV apology was genuine, meaningful and unconditional.

This is just one of many actions of Anton’s that had a positive and uplifting social impact in relation to the Jewish community, the LGBTIQ community, and the broader community.

Anton’s untimely death is devastating to all who knew him and who were helped by him. We extend our sincere condolences to his family

Aleph will always remember his values and value his memory.

For further comment contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 or michael@aleph.org.au.

Aleph Melbourne is a social, support and advocacy group for same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people (and allies) who have a Jewish heritage, living in Melbourne, Australia.

ENDS

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