Correcting the record

Whilst grateful for the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s sincere apology to Aleph Melbourne in 2019, the apology was not exactly for “[Aleph’s] 1999 exclusion from the JCCV” as stated here by outgoing President Jennifer Huppert:

Oboler takes the reins from Jennifer Huppert, who served two three-year terms. The lawyer and former Labor MLC told The AJN the JCCV’s role in the Victorian Jewish Community Bushfire Relief Appeal and in the Jewish Community COVID Taskforce were key developments on her watch, as was obtaining funding for communal security. Bringing in LGBTIQ group Keshet and the apology to gay-rights group Aleph for its 1999 exclusion from the JCCV were milestones. She noted, “Gen17 showed that Jewish people identify in many different ways.”

“Andre Oboler takes the JCCV reins” | AJN (Nov 19 2020)

The exact wording of the JCCV apology, as taken from the Motion to JCCV Plenum – April 2019, is:

Accordingly, this Plenum now apologises unconditionally to all members of our community who were impacted by the rejection of the membership application and for the unacceptable homophobic views expressed during the debate.

We apologise for the deep offence and humiliation caused by the hateful words spoken in the course of the debate.

We apologise for the subsequent distress, further marginalisation and stigmatisation caused by the rejection of Aleph Melbourne’s membership application.

Candidate statement: David Zyngier Greens for Camden Ward – Glen Eira Council

The following political statement has been supplied by David Zyngier who is running as a candidate for Camden Ward – Glen Eira Council in the 2020 Local Government elections.

Aleph Melbourne will endorse all political candidates who unconditionally support equal rights for LGBTIQ+ Jews and whose values align with ours.


David Zyngier, Greens candidate for Camden Ward, Glen Eira Council: Supporting our LGBTIQ+ Community.

I am running for elections for Camden Ward in the forthcoming Glen Eira Council elections and will be an advocate for the LGBTIQ+ community in Glen Eira. I am requesting the support of Aleph and its members.

Beginning with my university days at Monash in the 1970s, I have been an advocate for the equal rights of LGBTIQ+ people and for members of the Jewish LGBTIQ+ community in particular.

As far back as 1999, I wrote a letter of support for Aleph Melbourne which was published in the Australian Jewish News (and featured on Aleph website). I condemned the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s bigoted behaviour in rejecting the membership of Aleph Melbourne. I wrote at that time:

“In a momentous and shameful vote of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, on Monday 10 May, the Jewish gay support group, Aleph was refused membership of the JCCV. It has been only a generation since Jews and homosexuals were forced to wear badges of coloured cloth – how quickly we seem to forget that we are inseparably linked by a very common but tragic history. … I can only say how ashamed I feel to be part of such a community that has turned its back on our fellow Jews.”

Twenty years later, in 2019, I was contacted by Aleph Melbourne to support their efforts to right this wrong. I worked together with Aleph Melbourne to write and facilitate a formal public apology from the JCCV. This was a bittersweet victory – yes, an apology had been received, but only after two decades of struggle by the LGBTQI+ community and its allies.

In my role as an advocate for public education, I led a campaign together with Fairness in Religious Education (FIRIS) to remove the bigoted and homophobic Special Religious Education program from our public primary schools. I have been a strong and loud public advocate of the Safe School Program. I have joined the call for the scrapping of the federally funded School Chaplains Program. Along with other activists, I have called for those funds to be invested in secular, unbiased and inclusive support for students through counsellors and through antibullying initiatives such as the Safe Schools Program.

The Greens, more than any other political party, will always advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ+ residents in Glen Eira and beyond, championing diversity and calling out discrimination, bias, and bigotry. As the first party to support and actively campaign to remove discrimination in marriage, we are so proud of what a strong and united community campaign can do to make positive change.

Yet, we recognise that there is so much more to be done. Our MPs, councillors, and members are committed to stand at the forefront of efforts for equal rights, social acceptance, and human dignity for all.

The Greens Party is proud of our strong and active LGBTIQ+ membership who have led the way in developing the detailed statement of policies outlined here, https://greens.org.au/vic/policies/sexual-orientation-gender-identity-and-intersex-policy

Authorised by M. Shields 1/45 William St. Melbourne Vic 3000

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signed as of 30 July 2020 

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

Download PDF


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The Aguda “Pride in the Livingroom” Project

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.

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

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

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


SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION, AND SEX CHARACTERISTICS 

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

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

Within 18 months, Australia must: 

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

EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION 

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

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

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

Australia must not enact the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill. 


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Melbourne Synagogue Distances Itself From Vile Remarks | Star Observer

Strengthening our community, not virtue signalling | AJN

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.

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

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

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

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

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

We reaffirm our full-hearted support for:

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

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

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

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

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

View statement PDF here.

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