The changing face of marriage | AJN

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AJN Letters: Marriage Equality – a response to Rabbi Gutnick, another from Rabbi Ingram – November 2 2012

2 November 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


Time to update view on marriage

IN response to the opinion piece by Rabbi Moshe Gutnick in The AJN (26/10), I find it remarkably ironic that he should enjoy the freedoms and rights that come with the laws of Australia, and yet he lectures on what marriage should and should not be, based on reasoning that originated elsewhere and from a very different historical and time context.

It is time that people like him updated their views, aligned themselves with basic human rights and embraced the idea of a fair go for all, as is the supposed Australian ideal.  As usual, gay rights are being misconstrued and twisted into taking away from or devaluing heterosexual rights, when in fact we simply want what our parents, siblings and friends enjoy – the right to get married, the right to have a fabulous party and the right to be left alone and not dictated to by some stranger who thinks their values can somehow inform what I may or may not do.

DAVID REID
Brisbane, QLD


Standing up to political correctness

THE predictable flood of emotive and irrational invective (AJN 26/10) against my sober refutation based on Torah outlook (19/10) of Justice Rothman’s views on homosexual marriage (12/10) graphically illustrates why the courageous public stand against the rising tide of political correctness of 150 prominent Australian doctors opposing same-sex marriage speaks far more loudly than the fact that 1000 other doctors endorsed it.

After all, it isn’t everybody in professional life who wants to take an unpopular public stance on an issue and risk insult, vitriol and ostracism from a vociferous interest group, as well as from those preferring to espouse the popular “wisdom” of the day.

Of the five letters published, not one dealt with the points I raised.  Three were rude and insulting and one expressed the intolerant desire to silence me as well as all those who disagree with them.  Sadly, they reveal more about their authors than the subject of their criticism.  But thank God free speech is still alive and well in The Australian Jewish News.

RABBI CHAIM INGRAM
Bondi Junction, NSW

A match made in heaven | AJN

October 26, 2012 – page 25
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

A match made in heaven

Marriage isn’t a right for all.  It’s between men and women and, civil or not, its roots are in religion.

Viewpoint
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick

Judaism unequivocally recognises marriage as being only between a man and woman. However, while the Torah irrevocably forbids homosexual relationships and overt homosexual behaviour, it adopts the distinction found in numerous rabbinical texts, between the person and his or her behaviour. Tolerance and love must be shown to all.

However, while such tolerance is consistent with the core values of Judaism, there is a great difference between tolerance for an individual, and recognition of a movement which wishes to turn something clearly prohibited by Judaeo-Christian teaching into something not only tolerated, but recognised and solemnised through the institution of marriage.

There is no doubt that society must protect all citizens from discrimination, including from discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, but this can be done in other ways, without granting a homosexual union the sanctity of marriage.

It is indeed a complex debate as to the degree with which Judaeo-Christian ethical positions should be translated into public policy in a pluralistic democratic society. However, one thing is clear, at this point in Australian history, our great Commonwealth still bases itself on those values taught to mankind through the great religions of Judaism and Christianity.

Our Parliament begins its deliberations with a prayer to the God of all mankind: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name … Thy Will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.” Parliamentarians swear their oath on a Bible, as do all who stand in our courts. Our constitution acknowledges the blessings of God.  While indeed we make provision for all, including those who do not believe in God, and that indeed is an essential part of our democracy, the overwhelming majority of our citizens build their lives, indeed not necessarily around organised religion, but around belief in a Creator.

Indeed, as Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks convincingly argues, it is only democracies that have at their foundations belief in a Supreme Being and subservience to a higher morality that indeed ensure the rights of all their citizens precisely because they are “created in the image of God”.  Without God, human government becomes supreme and the arbiter of morality.  Inevitably the rights of their citizens become subservient to the needs of the state, and as we have seen with the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, the results are catastrophic.

Gay people can be protected from discrimination without tampering with marriage.

Justice Rothman (AJN 12/10) argues that it is hypocritical for the rabbinate in our democracy to argue on the one hand against same-sex marriage while on the other hand insist on the right to brit milah (circumcision).  The argument, with respect to His Honour, is flawed.

It is indeed a universal human right to be able to freely practice religion, including the practice of brit milah.  However, there is no such universal human right for all persons to be able to marry.

As late as March 2012, the European Court of Human Rights found that same sex marriage is not a human right under the European Convention on Human Rights.  Marriage indeed is not a right, but in our society it is the voluntary union of  man and a woman as uniquely defined in the Judaeo-Christian ethic.

Indeed, the Marriage Act recognises the essentially religious nature of marriage.  No other act of Parliament includes in it outcomes achieved by a minister of religion.  In some other parts of the world, the recording of a marriage is purely a civil matter totally unrelated to the performance of a ceremony by a minister of religion; the certificate of marriage does not mention religion at all.

However, in our Marriage Act, marriage can be performed by a minister of religion; this and the fact that the marriage was performed according to the rites of that religion are all recorded on the certificate of marriage.  Indeed, we do provide for a civil celebrant to perform a civil marriage, but that does not take away from its essential Judaeo-Christian, and indeed biblical, foundation.

If there was a universal right to “marriage”, as Justice Rothman suggests, and marriage was just the conferring and acceptance of certain mutual legal rights and obligations, why would that not have to extend to allowing a (consenting adult) brother and sister to marry?  Or for that matter a man to marry two women or a woman to marry two men, as indeed does take place in other cultures and other parts of the world?  Should a minority of our citizens wish to have such unions, would Justice Rothman seriously suggest we are denying them their rights?

Gay people can be protected from discrimination without tampering with marriage.  Maintaining the definition of marriage, in accordance with the Judaeo-Christian ethic, is not a denial of rights nor an act of homophobia; it is simply the maintaining of a definition, and with it the sanctity of marriage.  Our democratic principles are not those that espouse freedom from religion but freedom of religion.  And indeed it would appear, by the recent overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives against changes to the Marriage Act, that the vast majority of our elected representatives agree.

Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick is president of the
Orthodox Rabbis of Australasia and a dayan
on the Sydney Beth Din.

AJN Letters: Marriage Equality – Responses to Rabbi Chaim Ingram – October 26 2012

26 October 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


No rational basis for opposing gay marriage

IN his response to Justice Stephen Rothman’s article, “Marriage Rites Are Rights For All” (AJN 12/10), Rabbi Chaim Ingram (AJN 19/10) rejects as “patently risible” Rothman’s view that “current opposition to same-sex marriage is irrational”.  Rabbi Ingram then continues: “Opposition to homosexual marriage is eminently rational.”  However, other than baldly stating that such opposition is “eminently rational”, Ingram provides little evidence of precisely how that opposition is rational.

The closest Ingram comes is citing the opinion of 150 doctors that marriage is between a man and a woman exclusively is the basis for a healthy society.  However, the Australia Medical Association (AMA) has rejected the stance of those 150 doctors.  In fact, the AMA president has reportedly said the doctors’ claims are irresponsible and at odds with medical evidence.  The AMA president cited a growing body of evidence that children of gay and lesbian parents are just as happy with themselves and their own sexuality as children of heterosexual parents with no difference in development, psychological adjustment, or peer popularity.

Moreover, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) – the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, which represents more than 20,000 members – has endorsed the American Psychological Association’s calling for marriage equality.  In a unanimous resolution, the APS has called for legalisation of same-sex marriage, on the basis of psychological evidence showing the mental health benefits of marriage, and the harm caused by social exclusion and discrimination arising from not having the choice to marry.

I ask Rabbi Ingram to have another attempt at explaining the rational basis for opposing same-sex marriage.  In particular, I ask the rabbi: What is the rational difference between a committed, exclusive relationship of one man and one woman and a committed, exclusive relationship of one man and one man or one woman and one woman?  The rational difference cannot be children, since one does not need to have to children to get married in Australia; and one does not need to get married to have children.  What, then, is the patently rational difference?

TROY SIMPSON
Fraser, ACT


The reality of homosexuality

DOES Rabbi Ingram have any compassion for those whose natural sexual desires are toward their own, rather than the opposite, sex?  Homosexuality has been observed in animal species as well as in humans, so perhaps some people are born that way.  What has the Orthodox rabbinate to say on that?

The Torah also has a command that “wayward” sons be brought to the community to be stoned.  Naturally the application of this law is abhorrent and the rabbis have found ways around the law.

But when it comes to homosexuality, an ancient prejudice that has lead to suicides, only the Progressive rabbis have made a positive step to justice.

Tell me rabbi: How would gay marriage in any way affect those of us in heterosexual marriages?  How could it change our relationships with our spouses and children?  Why, rabbi, do you take such a strong stand on this subject?

PETER COHEN
Bentleigh East, Vic


Most medics are pro gay marriage

Rabbi Ingram refers to 150 doctors who oppose changes to the Marriage Act that would allow same-sex attracted and intersex people the right to marry the person of their choice.  What he conveniently neglects to mention are the over 1000 Australian medical practitioners who have signed their names to support such legislative changes, on the basis of credible medical evidence.  The list of names and research papers are all available at drs4equality.com.  With stark headlines such as the recent “Suicide rates high for Orthodox homosexual youths” in The Jerusalem Post, and in the face of the evidence presented by Doctors for Marriage Equality, it doesn’t take much to realise that people like Rabbi Ingram are exacerbating the problems their communities are facing.

Contemporary scientific and medical understanding is so completely foreign to what was acceptable decades ago, let alone 4000 years ago.  Rabbi Ingram must learn to move with the times or be rendered a prehistoric relic who does more harm than good.

Michael Barnett
Ashwood, Vic


Disgusted at rabbi’s homophobic views

I AM ashamed that Chaim Ingram’s homophobic and offensive comments were allowed in last week’s letters.  I am extremely disappointed and embarrassed by this representation of our community.

Being a philosophy student and an atheist secular humanist Jew, I am once again shocked by this widely held view in the religious community.  Ingram tries to apply logic to his emotional plea and fails miserably.  We, as people, are meant to spread love, compassion and kindness, and this letter is taking us in the other direction.

JAKE FEHILY
Melbourne, Vic


How would rabbis react to gay kids?

I AM writing to express my disgust at the letter from last week’s AJN from Rabbi Chaim Ingram in reply to Justice Stephen Rothman’s article (12/10).

Again it displays the total ignorance and intolerance of many of our rabbis.  It is disgusting in its content.

What would many of the so-called rabbis say if they personally had a gay son or daughter? I fortunately belong to a congregation on Melbourne where are rabbis are understanding and very tolerant of all sexual relationships, and welcome heterosexuals and homosexuals equally, remembering we are all created equal in the sight of God.

A letter like this is a sure way of losing many Jews from the various congregations.

MARCUS MOSS
Black Rock, Vic

AJN Letters: Marriage Equality – Rabbi Chaim Ingram responds to Justice Stephen Rothman – October 19, 2012

19 October 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


Rothman wrong on same-sex marriage

Justice Stephen Rothman’s article “Marriage rites are rights for all” (AJN 12/10) is intellectually flawed several reasons:

While he, like everyone, is entitled to express his view, to state that “current opposition to same-sex marriage is irrational” is patently risible.

Opposition to homosexual marriage is eminently rational. It is based on the universal age-old, time-hallowed, sacred definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Will Justice Rothman perhaps advocate a similar change to the definition of death and redefine it as, say, “the loss of a will to live”, thus paving the way for voluntary euthanasia? After all, it is less conscience-pricking to kill an already dead man.

Will he, moreover, accuse those opposed to such a radical redefinition (and redefining marriage is no less radical) of being “irrational”?

Such intolerant pejorative labelling is redolent of the anti-intellectual tactics of the far left.

That can be no meaningful comparison between opposition to circumcision, a practice sanctified nearly four millennia ago by Abraham, progenitor of the three monotheistic faiths accounting for 60 per cent of the world’s population, and opposition to same-sex marriage which, prior to the 21st century, was instituted in only the most decadent ancient cultures.

Justice Rothman rightly cites evidence that female circumcision “injures the ‘victim’ both physically and psychologically”.

However, there was other medical evidence he didn’t mention.

Earlier this year, 150 prominent doctors – including Victoria’s deputy chief psychiatrist – publicly declared in the face of political correctness that in their considered medical view marriage between a man and a woman exclusively is the basis for a healthy society.

Even supposing the evidence is not conclusive, should Justice Rothman not take it into account?  Worse, on what intellectually sound basis does he excoriate those who do and tell them they are irrational?

Justice Rothman declares that homosexual marriage is “not antithetical to the values of society in which that minority resides”.

I beg to disagree.

The values of Australian society are founded on what is often termed Judaeo-Christian ethic and which Jews term the Noahide Code, according to which homosexuality is one of a handful of offences (and prawn-eating is not one of them), which one is bidden to resist even on pain of death.

RABBI CHAIM INGRAM
Bondi Junction, NSW

AJN Letters: Marriage Equality – Responses to Rabbis Gutnick & Ingram – November 9 2012

9 November 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


We should not impose our laws on society

I WAS displayed by Rabbi Moshe Gutnick’s column about same-sex marriage (AJN 26/11).  He raises and then dismisses the key point that civil, non-religiously affiliated celebrants can perform legally recognised marriages in Australia.

Contrary to his claim, this is indeed an indication that the civil status of marriage is not based on a “Judeo-Christian, and indeed biblical, foundation”.

Speaking of a biblical foundation, I find it especially interesting that Rabbi Gutnick then raises a “slippery slope” argument that approving same-sex marriage would lead to the permitting of a marriage between a man and two women because in the recent parshah, Vayetze, Yaakov enters into that exact relationship with Rachel and Leah!

Australia prides itself on multiculturalism, and one of its most attractive features is the lack of religious influence in its civic life. I’m sure it would not occur to Rabbi Gutnick to insist that other marriages forbidden to Orthodox Jews, such as marriage between a Cohen and a divorcee, should be forbidden by civil law in Australia.  Similarly, Jewish law regarding marriages and homosexuality should not be imposed on the larger Australian community.

JANICE GELB
South Yarra, VIC


Australia not beholden to the Jewish view

Rabbis Moshe Gutnick (AJN 26/10) And Chaim Ingram (AJN 19/10) have very different approaches, but each does not deal with the fundamental issue.  Rabbi Gutnick’s comment on the place of Judeo-Christian ethic in Australia is misplaced.  The only mention of God in relation to the Australian Constitution is in the preamble to the Imperial (UK) Act, not in any operative provision of that Constitution, and the mention is that the people were “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”.  So am I.

Australian democracy is quite different to most.  Firstly, voting is compulsory.  The majority in Australia is not silent; it votes.  Secondly, voting is preferential.  The person elected represents a consensus of the majority in the electorate.

The combination of the two factors forces political parties to the centre; to appeal to the majority are not sectarian interests, who will then turn out to vote on one or more issues of concern.

Thirdly, Australia, despite its history of bigotry, particularly to blacks, gays and new immigrant groups, is extremely tolerant; laissez-faire, not moralistic.  It allows people to do what they like as long as it doesn’t interfere with them.

The best example is the Australian reaction to the AIDS epidemic. We did not suffer at the hands of religious bigotry.  We educated and provided needle exchange; and Australia was the only major western country in which the incidents of AIDS fell in the gay community and was never an epidemic in the heterosexual community.

Australia owes much to the Judeo-Christian ethic, but only indirectly, and we have significantly departed from it: e.g. stem cell research (inconsistent with Christian, but not Jewish, ethos); abortion; and same gender relationships.  Democracy is not a product of the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Rabbi Gutnick threatens polygamy and incest as the possible result if marriage is broadened.  He must have read the parshah: Abraham had three wives and married his niece!  Each act would be illegal in Australia.

The Judeo-Christian ethic (what Rabbi Ingram calls the conduct of Abraham, being over 6000 years old) allowed and encouraged polygamy (at least one male with more than one wife); it allowed slavery (up to six years); and it permitted Abraham to marry his niece, Issac his cousin, Esau his first cousin, Jacob his first two cousins (through both his mother and father).

Australia has determined that same gender relationships should be legal – they can be recognised as de facto couples. If the Judeo-Christian ethos prevailed, as Rabbi Gutnick suggests, this would not have occurred.

Perhaps same-gender marriages are not, in the Jewish view, made in heaven.  But the Jewish view does not prevail in Australia.  We do not live, thank God, in a theocracy; we live in a democracy.

The only issue is whether a couple legally living together (or who want to) should have the choice of marriage.  This change does not affect Orthodox Judaism, but it does effect true tolerance to those who are currently suffering discriminatory treatment.

And in the end, it’s about treating others as we would want to be treated (or not doing to them that which we would find hateful); everything else is just commentary.

JUSTICE STEPHEN ROTHMAN
Bondi Junction, NSW


Exceptions to the rights to marry

DICTIONARY definitions of marriage recognise “mutual relation of husband and wife” being “a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family”.

Justice Stephen Rothman (AJN 12/10) regards marriage as a universal rite with rights for all; however, Rabbi Gutnick (AJN 26/10) surely has debunked that assertion by reminding us that incestuous or polygamist marriages are not acceptable so rites and rights have some exceptions.  Why?  Because that is our Judaic tradition.

Respect, love the one’s fellow man, tolerance, diversity, compassion for weaknesses within us all and equal standing before our creator is a sine qua non also contained within our Judaic traditions.  For millennia, during times of upheaval, confusion and bedlam, we have been a light unto the nations and therefore let us not change widely understood definitions of marriage or the teachings of Torah that form the basis of civilised society and family in order to satisfy a vocal interest group.

ADAM RAPAPORT
Bondi Junction, NSW

Australian Jewish News apologises for Rabbi Chaim Ingram

Last week the Australian Jewish News published an article by Chaim Ingram in both their Sydney and Melbourne editions in which they inadvertently included this grossly offensive statement on the issue of homosexuality:

Non-Orthodoxy embraces it while Orthodoxy sees it as a sin for which one must be prepared to give up one’s life if necessary.

This week the AJN have published an apology in both editions for this editorial oversight:


27 Jul 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Apology

IN last week’s AJN (20/07), Rabbi Chaim Ingram expressed an opinion on homosexuality held by certain sections of the Jewish community. The AJN apologises for any offence caused.


AJN Letters: Michael Barnett clarifies comment in Masorti article – June 15 2012

15 June 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


Setting the record straight

I WOULD like to note that in the article on Australian Masorti support for same-sex marriage (AJN 08/06), my reference to commitment ceremonies for heterosexual couples was printed out of context.

It was submitted to the paper by way of comparison, in relation to Progressive Judaism in Australia currently offering same-sex Jewish couples a commitment ceremony, but denying this option to those heterosexual couples who would like religious recognition of their relationship but who do not want to get married.

MICHAEL BARNETT
Ashwood, Vic

AJN Letters: Rabbi Shimon Cowen taken to task – June 1 2012

1 June 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


Rabbi wrong on reparative therapy for homosexuality

IN response to Rabbi Shimon Cowen (AJN 25/05), I feel I must take a stand regarding the false portrayal of homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.

In 2009, the American Psychological Association voted to repudiate reparative therapy after a comprehensive two-year study concluded there was scant evidence that sexual orientation could be changed.

Their research showed that reparative therapy could lead to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

In mid-May this year, the Office for the Americas of the World Health Organisation issued a statement that “‘therapies’ to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health,” and that “there is a professional consensus that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality.”

There are no rigorous scientific studies which show that “Practices known as ‘reparative therapy’ or ‘conversion therapy’ … demonstrate any efficacy of efforts to change sexual orientation”.

As our spiritual leaders, could our rabbis be supporting us to be loving parents invested in nurturing our children’s potential instead of pathologising and demonising homosexuality (and our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and intersex Jews)?

Should rabbis encourage parents to denounce their own children as “abominations”? Could we instead focus on investment in the kind of values and ethics that lead to minimising sexual abuse and domestic violence in our community?

Rabbi Cowen, we want our spiritual leaders to echo the statement by Dr Roses from the Office for the Americas of the World Health Organisation: “These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.”

SARAH CALLEJA
Counselling psychologist
South Yarra, Vic


Study into reparative therapy repudiated

RABBI Cowen’s letter (AJN 25/05) distorts the events and findings surrounding Dr Robert Spitzer’s research into reparative therapies. To be precise and set the record straight:

Dr Spitzer’s 2003 paper was challenged by his colleagues because it was not refereed and because it reached questionable conclusions; it was not a situation, as Cowen implied, in which he was “assailed by the APA [American Psychiatric Association] and various lobbies”.

The primary objection to Dr Spitzer’s work was not, as Cowen stated, that his sample was drawn from highly religiously motivated individuals. But as Spitzer said, “In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct.

“The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

This year, Dr Spitzer said that his 2003 study was simply to answer the question “How do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?”

Rabbi Cowen wrongly implies in his letter that the study was to investigate the success rate of such therapies.

Finally, Dr Spitzer bared his soul by concluding, “I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals.”

There is clearly no evidence whatsoever that reparative therapy works. In fact, there is ample evidence that for many individuals it causes extreme anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Promoting the possibility of a “cure” for homosexuality ignores current medical knowledge and may indeed result in harm to individuals who are pressured into attempting such fake therapies.

How many of our fellow Jews, especially how many of our children, must suffer from depression and related issues before those who promote quack therapies recognise the harm they are doing?

JONATHAN BARNETT
President, Keshet Australia


‘I’m gay and I don’t need fixing’

RABBI Shimon Cowen’s letter last week reflects an attitude towards gay people that there is something wrong with being gay and that we need to be fixed. I’m here to tell Cowen and others from similar backgrounds that I don’t need fixing.

I’ve stood by my partner as he’s taken on the Orthodox attitude towards himself and his sexuality. While there has been significant changes in some attitudes within the broader Jewish community, there are still large segments that lag behind modern understanding of sexuality, and then there are those who simply don’t want to do anything to upset the Orthodox.

The notion that sexuality can be changed has been shown to be incorrect, the study that Rabbi Cowen relies on is often misquoted and misunderstood. Recently, the author withdrew the study because of the way religious people continue to misuse it.

Those in authority fail in their duty of care if they refuse to understand the nature of the diverse range of sexuality, and doubly so if they make any attempts to subvert the innate nature of the very personal notion of sexuality.

The anxiety caused in young people whose sexuality is not accepted by their faith groups is well documented, and gleefully ignored by those who believe it an abomination.

Rabbi Cowen and others of his ilk need to accept people for who they are; they need to encourage them to grow as individuals and they need to embrace the diverse nature of their community. It is the only way to true social cohesion and understanding for all.

GREGORY STORER
Carnegie, Vic


Suffering caused by reparative therapy

RABBI Shimon Cowen, is continuing to misuse Dr Robert Spitzer’s work as it has always been misused by those whose minds are closed to the truth.

Dr Spitzer’s study is meaningless: it only measured people who said they had changed.

It contained no objective evidence, no proof at all of actual change.

Furthermore, it was based on memories from years earlier; it included ex-gay advocates with a political axe to grind; and tested no actual treatments.

It was based entirely on phone interviews.

Dr Spitzer never implied in the study that being gay was a choice, and he never said it was possible for anyone who wanted to change – no matter how devout – to do so by means of therapy.

By way of contrast, the World Health Organisation calls reparative therapy “a serious threat to the health and well-being – even the lives – of affected people”.

Homosexuality is a natural expression of human sexuality: it cannot be cured, only suppressed.

I have personally spoken with many men who have suffered this attempted cure. Even those who remain in “successful” heterosexual marriages admit their homosexual desires continue unabated.

Just as men in prison may become “situationally homosexual” to relieve their frustrations, these men have become “situationally heterosexual” within their marriages. Their underlying natural orientation and desires are unchanged – which leads many of them to despair and suicide.

It is reprehensible in the extreme for someone claiming to be a man of God to peddle false hope in this manner.

DOUG POLLARD
Eltham, Vic

AJN Letters: Rabbi Shimon Cowen draws on Robert Spitzer – May 25 2012

25 May 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


Rabbi Glick’s view of homosexuality

IN last week’s AJN (18/05), the editor commented that Rabbi Avrohom Glick’s statement that homosexuality “can be cured … in most situations” is “an affront … to all those who believe in equality irrespective of sexual orientation”.  I am sure that Rabbi Glick acknowledges that the commandment of loving a fellow Jew extends equally to homosexuals.

The editor also commented that Rabbi Glick’s remarks raise questions about his role as director of student welfare.  Rabbi Glick serves in a school under the aegis of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe himself published an essay on homosexuality, in which he wrote that the point of education in general is to modify “inborn dispositions”, including homosexual dispositions, which pose challenges for the ethical requirements of Torah.

He wrote that “for some it is easier and for others it is harder”, but with the exercise of free will and the help of educators, therapists and counsellors, individuals can overcome these drives.  In his position at a Jewish, Orthodox, and particularly, a Lubavitcher school, it is a simple matter of religious freedom and charter that Rabbi Glick should be able to express this view.

Rabbi Glick’s statement that practical homosexual orientation could be experienced as abnormal and be altered was in fact demonstrated in a psychological research paper published by Dr Robert Spitzer in 2003.  This appeared as a revision of Spitzer’s position when, 30 years earlier, he was integral in having homosexuality removed as an illness from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders.  Spitzer was at once assailed by the APA and various lobbies for his new research, and over time a number of recantations were elicited from him.

The primary objection which was used to disqualify Spitzer’s new work was that his sample of interviewees was drawn from highly religiously motivated individuals who sought to change their homosexual orientations – a sample, it was argued, that did not represent average homosexuals.  And yet this is precisely the point: because these individuals had a conscious spiritual identity, a higher self, resonating with the Creator’s moral template, which negates homosexual conduct, they were often able to engage with and transform “another”, contrary physical self, as Spitzer found.  Without any concept of an autonomous spiritual self, capable of struggle with psychophysical impulse, the politically ascendant psychology of the APA necessarily rejects freedom, choice and cure in homosexuality.

RABBI SHIMON COWEN
Balaclava, Vic