On August 2 2020 Michael Barnett from Aleph Melbourne participated in “The Aguda – Pride in the Livingroom” Project. Watch Michael tell his story:
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
The Aguda – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel has organised a diverse series of international Jewish LGBTIQ+ speakers who will be coming to you live from their living rooms over the week of August 3-7 2020.
“Pride In The Living Room” was founded in memory of the 2009 “Tel Aviv Gay Center” shooting victims, and in memory of the Jerusalem Pride parade stabbing in 2015. The project arose from the need to share and expose the public to personal stories of the LGBTQ community. Through these stories, we as Jewish LGBTQ community members – can build inspiring and powerful connections between the LGBTQ community and the general public – ALL ACROSS the world, inside our local Jewish communities, in Israel and abroad.
Join “The Aguda” – the Israeli Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, in hearing the unique stories of our Global Jewish LGBTQ community, and help us in spreading our common values of love, acceptance, tolerance, and “Tikun Olam.”
Check out the speaker list and event details on their Facebook page here.
Speakers from Aleph Melbourne include founding member Shaun Miller and co-convenor Michael Barnett.
Join Michael at 7pm on Sunday August 2. Details here.
Join Shaun at 7pm on Thursday August 6. Details here.
Events will be streamed live on both Zoom and Facebook.
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.
Aleph Melbourne commends Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on significant LGBTIQ+ diversity reform
July 12 2020
Aleph Melbourne commends the board of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation (CHC) for taking an unequivocal stance against all intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people, and accepts a sincere apology from the board for recent comments made on social media by a CHC Vice President.*
By committing to undertake diversity training, and by accepting that intolerance and vilification directed at LGBTIQ+ people is unacceptable, the CHC board sends a strong message to trans and gender diverse, same-sex attracted, and intersex people in the Jewish community that they are valued, important and worthy.
We acknowledge CHC Rabbi Ralph Genende for his decade-plus leadership in being a proponent for the acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people.
Now with Caulfield Hebrew Congregation sending a clear message that Orthodox Judaism can embrace LGBTIQ+ diversity, Aleph Melbourne calls on all Orthodox synagogues in Melbourne and across Australia to stand in solidarity on this important stance.
Michael Barnett (pronouns: he/him/his)
On July 3 2020 the Australian Jewish News published an opinion piece by Michael Barnett from Aleph Melbourne addressing in part some concerns from a May 15 AJN opinion piece criticising the Zionist Federation of Australia for participating in Pride March.JNMEL_A_03072020_015
See below for details of the three LGBTIQ+ sessions at this year’s Limmud Oz. More details online.
Sunday, June 7 • 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Israel that you don’t know
Hen is an energetic activist and advocate for his people. As the son of Mizrahi Jewish refugees from Iraq and North Africa (Berber Jews from Tunisia), Hen has a unique and important voice in today’s discussions, sharing his family’s story as part of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. As a young Israeli, Hen served in the IDF for almost five years as an openly gay commander. During his service as a lieutenant in the COGAT unit, he worked as an intermediary between the Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF), the Palestinian Authority, the UN, and many non-governmental organisations that operate in the West Bank.
Hen Mazzig is the son of Mizrahi Jewish refugees from Iraq and North Africa. He has written for the LA Times, NBC News, Haaretz, The Forward, Jewish Chronicle and International Business Times. Since 2016, he has worked as a freelance consultant to help pro-Israel and social justice causes, and has also volunteered as the head of the Transgender and Health department at the National Israeli LGBTQ Task Force “The Nir Kates Center” in Tel Aviv.
Monday, June 8 • 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Proud to be Jewish; proud to be gay
Jarod has had a long journey with his gayness. A longer one with his Judaism. His life has its share of conflict. Inner turmoil. Some painful memories. But the focus will be on the inspiring moments he has had on his Jewish gay journey. Ultimately, his life is a tale of unwavering love, positivity and understanding. Because he has waded through the darkness, the light shines twice as bright. And I’m here.
Jarod is a Jewish gay man living his best life in Melbourne, and has a keen interest in bringing the Jewish and LGBTIQA+ communities together. He actively volunteers and as a job is involved in helping disadvantaged people to find employment. He is looking forward to sharing his story.
Adam Samuel is a Jewish/gay award-winning radio broadcaster and journalist, working with KIIS, GOLD, 3AW and JOY 94.9, and notably associate producing the Melbourne AIDS Conference. Adam is also a festival and event MC, and is often seen walking along Glenhuntly Rd with a really large cup of coffee!
Sunday, June 14 • 12:00pm – 1:00pm
All about Chava: the representation of queer Jewish women in film
From the lounge-rooms of Sydney, we bring you a taste of HaSodot, our grassroots film club catering to queer Jewish women. Join us as we watch and discuss the portrayal of queer Jewish women in contemporary film and television. We will examine the ways in which television and film represent (or misrepresent) our experiences and how this may impact our lives and identities.
Liora is somehow still a student at the University of Sydney, and works in research in the academic and corporate worlds. She is co-founder of the Jewish queer women’s community, HaSodot. Liora is also co-chair of Limmud Oz + NZ Online 2020.
Shoshana is a writer and playlist maker based in sydney. She spends her time watching, reading about, and discussing film and television. her mother thinks she would’ve made a great doctor.
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.20200604-Voice-Treaty-Truth-Jews-support-First-Nations-Australia