Coalition for Marriage’s Karina Okotel thumbs her nose at Executive Council of Australian Jewry

On the “Same Sex Marriage Debate” episode of Q&A (Monday October 23 2017) Karina Okotel from the Coalition for Marriage dismissed claims from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry:

I’m going to bring in Karina here, because obviously you’re concerned about these areas precisely.

The short answer to your question is that if same-sex marriage is legalised, no, Christian schools will not be immune from the consequences that flow from that. And we’ve seen that just last week, when Theresa May in the UK said that one of her greatest achievements in her parliamentary career was legalising same-sex marriage. And the next step now is to ensure that there is LGBTI sex education in all schools – not just government schools, all schools.

OK, Magda.

I actually… You said fact-check. I did fact-check a couple of the claims that you’ve made. One of them was about the guy who’s the prominent guy from Canada for the No campaign. And he said it’s been sort of put forward that because he wouldn’t accept teachings about gender and sex education, he was suing the school.
He had a six-year-long battle going on and his claims, his list of claims, included things like he didn’t want his children to be exposed to what he called false teachings, which meant the mere idea that there were other sets of values that existed, anything to do with the environment, to do with astrology, which is in newspapers everywhere, and wizards, meaning the kids couldn’t discuss… He wanted to be informed. It was not because of a difference of views, it was…it was unworkable.
And one more thing – the other one I want… You mentioned the Jewish school in London. I fact-checked that because I actually went to the site of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and they said that is inaccurate. If you want to tell the Jews how to run Jewish schools – because we’re talking about freedom of religion – it seems to me…

Just to confirm, this is a story about a Jewish school in the UK and the suggestion or allegation that it was going to be forced to shut down because they were refusing to teach gender diversity?

And I’m not saying that’s inaccurate. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry is saying that that’s inaccurate.

We’ll quickly throw that to Karina.

The council are the only ones who say that that’s inaccurate. Everyone else says that it is accurate…

They’re the peak body. They’re the peak body.

The reports are on the internet. If you don’t believe that it’s true…


..have a look at the very reports that are provided by the inspectorate itself.

So, you don’t accept the word of the peak body of Australian Jewry?

It’s inaccurate to say that they didn’t face consequences as a result. The reality is that the inspector came, inspected the school and they failed inspections after same-sex marriage was legalised.

I’m going to draw a line. People can fact-check…

Please fact-check it. I would ask people to fact-check it.

I’d expect the fact-checkers will fact-check it.

I did fact-check. The Jews fact-checked it. But they don’t know, apparently.


They’re the only body that say that.

Claim UK school failed inspection over marriage teaching ‘factually inaccurate’ | The Guardian

Claim UK school failed inspection over marriage teaching ‘factually inaccurate’

Australian Jewish body denies Coalition for Marriage claim ultra-Orthodox London school was threatened with closure

Paul Karp
Thursday 5 October 2017 12.33 AEDT
Last modified on Thursday 5 October 2017 13.28 AEDT

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has refuted “factually inaccurate” claims a Jewish school in the UK was threatened with closure over its teachings about sexuality and marriage.

The case of the ultra-Orthodox Vishnitz girls school in north London has been cited repeatedly by the Australian Christian Lobby’s director, Lyle Shelton, and used as recently as Thursday by the Liberal senator Zed Seselja, as an example of a school forced to change its teaching because of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

In a statement released on Wednesday the ECAJ rejected the claim that Vishnitz “lost its accreditation as a school because it would not cease teaching its version of sexuality and marriage after same-sex marriages became legal in March 2014”.

“In point of fact the school found itself in difficulties with Ofsted [the UK school regulatory authority] well before March 2014 because it was said to have failed various other legal standards arising under earlier legislation,” it said.

“For example, the school was found to have failed to have policies in place that would require it to report incidents of abuse and neglect.”

In October 2016 and May 2017 Ofsted found Vishnitz girls school had failed to meet standards that education must “encourage respect” for others based on protected characteristics in the UK Equality Act 2010, including sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

The school also failed its inspections for a number of other reasons including facility maintenance, lack of a medical room and poor labelling of suitable drinking water.

In May 2017 Ofsted concluded the issues had been fixed, including lack of child protection policies, but not the issue of encouraging respect.

Shelton has repeatedly cited Vishnitz, arguing it has been penalised because it “doesn’t want to teach their children these radical concepts” and noting it failed inspections after same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK to suggest it was a consequence of that change.

ECAJ said the 2010 law predated marriage equality in the UK and “explicitly provides that the school has the right to teach its own beliefs about sexuality and marriage in a way that does not disrespect LGBTQI people”.

Explaining why it issued the statement, ECAJ said that during the debate about legal recognition of same-sex marriage “verbal abuse should be condemned and factual inaccuracies corrected”.

Seselja told Sky News that in the UK “there is a Jewish school which is being threatened with being shut down because it doesn’t want to teach the gender theory that we’ve seen in some schools here in Australia”.

“I’ve seen the examples in the UK – where there are religious schools told they have to change their teaching in order to keep their registration.”

Seselja said he was concerned about religious freedom and parental choice but refused to nominate what changes to law he would like to see, arguing the burden should be on those arguing for same-sex marriage not opponents to devise “protections”.

At the National Press Club on 13 September the Liberal party’s vice-president, Karina Okotel, said: “Three months ago in England, a Jewish school failed three inspections as they didn’t teach about homosexuality and gender diversity and, therefore, as same-sex marriage is legal, the students were not being provided a full understanding of fundamental British values and that school now faces closure.”

None of the Ofsted reports mentioned teaching about marriage

A spokeswoman for the Coalition for Marriage acknowledged that the Equality Act came into force before same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK but said the school had only failed its inspections after the marriage law changed.

“This timeline proves, rather than contradicts, the claim by Coalition for Marriage that a change in the marriage law has a direct impact on the education of children, specifically requiring LGBTIQ issues to be taught in primary school,” she said.

The Coalition for Marriage spokeswoman said the ECAJ “had previously issued a statement asserting that there is no threat to religious freedom at all if a change to the Marriage Act was to occur”.

This was “in contrast” to a Senate committee inquiry on the same-sex marriage bill exposure draft and “any other serious commentators on this issue”, she said.

Guardian Australia has contacted Seselja, Shelton and Okotel.