I am deeply grateful to David Southwick MP for personally extending an invitation to Aleph Melbourne to provide a submission to the Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections. I am also grateful to the committee of the inquiry for accepting our submission.
For many years I have witnessed vilifying comments originating within the Jewish community, directed at Jewish LGBTIQ+ people. These hateful comments, which appeared in Jewish print, broadcast, online and social media outlets, formed the basis of Aleph Melbourne’s submission to the inquiry.
The committee found our submission sufficiently compelling that they quoted from it in their report.
The Jewish community does not tolerate an iota of hate directed at it, and it should not tolerate an iota of hate emanating from it.
The committee recommended strengthening anti-vilification laws, including adding protections for LGBTIQ+ people and those with HIV/AIDS. Doing so will make Victoria a safer place for all people, whether they are Jewish, LGBTIQ+, or any other category.
Michael BarnettAustralian Jewish News, March 19, 2021, page 19
Co-convenor, Aleph Melbourne
David South, self-confessed champion of equality, claims his support for the LGBTIQ community is strong, but he his actions suggest otherwise.
|BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES REGISTRATION AMENDMENT BILL 2019||Page 63|
|15 August 2019||ASSEMBLY||Second reading||David 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.
A peaceful protest at Pride March 2019 holding David Southwick to account!
David Southwick must stop abusing the LGBTIQ community.
On January 28 2018 David Southwick had his photo taken with Jewish LGBTIQ groups at Pride March.
Aleph Melbourne noted:
Hi @SouthwickMP, when you stood with us today and had your photo proudly taken holding our "LGBTIQ Pride in the Jewish Community" placard, was that with preserving Safe Schools in mind, or do you support your party’s stance to scrap this critical programme?
— Aleph Melbourne (@alephmelbourne) January 28, 2018
During the 2018 Victorian State Election David Southwick claimed of the Safe Schools program:
We have demonstrated his claim is lacking in factual accuracy and have invited him to apologise for his error.
At Pride March 2019 Aleph Melbourne will remind the community of David Southwick’s damaging and misleading claims if a sufficient apology is not forthcoming.
We would however prefer that David Southwick’s presence at Pride March 2019 was uncontroversial.
David Southwick peddled misinformation about Safe School in his election campaign and owes the community an apology.
David Southwick was reported in the Australian Jewish News (Nov 23 2018), commenting on the Safe Schools program:
Southwick and Grasso clashed over the Liberals’ plans to scrap the Safe Schools program in which he said “really young children [are] being exposed to sexual education” and replace it with anti-bullying legislation, which she said would not teach respect for those with diverse sexual orientations.
The entire question from Michael Barnett, answer from David Southwick, and comments from Sorina Grasso and Dinesh Mathew, can be heard at Caulfield Candidates Forum: What is the Liberal Party doing to strengthen support for LGBTIQ people? (Nov 15 2018).
On Nov 22 2017 The Conversation article FactCheck: does the Safe Schools program contain ‘highly explicit material’? stated:
One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson’s claim that the Safe Schools program “contains highly explicit material directed at young children in their formative years” is incorrect.
There is no discussion of the details of specific sex acts, sex aids or sexual health in Safe Schools resources.
Safe Schools is an optional resource for schools and teachers. Its aim is to help school staff create safer and more inclusive environments for LGBTI students and families.
It is apparent that the understanding David Southwick has of the Safe Schools program, held uniformly across the Liberal Party, differs markedly from the reality of the program.
Is it deeply concerning that David Southwick campaigned on misinformation and fear-mongering, rather than truth and honesty.
David Southwick owes the voters and residents of Caulfield, the Jewish and wider community who put their trust in him, LGBTIQ people and their families, and all Victorians a sincere apology for flagrantly peddling damaging misinformation.
Put David Southwick and the Liberal Party last in Caulfield in the 2018 Victorian State Education
Liberal Party candidate and Caulfield incumbent David Southwick declared at the Caulfield Candidates Forum that he will scrap Safe Schools, a program that specifically supports LGBTIQ youth.
Disappointingly he has fallen for the perfidy of ultra-conservative forces both within and beyond the Liberal Party.
David Southwick could have informed himself of the facts around the Safe Schools program, he could have spoken to young people who have benefitted from Safe Schools, and he could have spoken to Jewish Care and the JCCV about Safe Schools, but he didn’t.
David Southwick, Matthew Guy and the Liberal Party are not friends of LGBTIQ people because their policies will harm LGBTIQ people.
In the 2018 Victorian State Election Aleph Melbourne recommends voters in the district of Caulfield put David Southwick LAST on the Legislative Assembly ballot paper and favour a progressive party that prioritises LGBTIQ issues on the Legislative Council ballot paper.
Authorised by M Barnett 2/24 Winbirra Parade Ashwood VIC 3147
At the Caulfield Candidates Forum David Southwick responds to a question about what the Liberal Party are doing to strengthen support for LGBTIQ people. Sorina Grasso and Dinesh Mathew follow up.
At the Caulfield Candidates Debate David Southwick responds to a question from Michael Barnett about what the Liberal Party are doing to strengthen support for LGBTIQ people. Listen here. Sorina Grasso and Dinesh Mathew follow-up. Listen to the question and answers here.
QUESTION FOR DAVID SOUTHWICK
CAULFIELD CANDIDATES FORUM
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 14 2018
David, last Wednesday Jewish Care Victoria and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria issued a combined statement1 entitled “STANDING AGAINST CONVERSION THERAPY”. This relates to the discredited and unscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation.
The Liberal party has made an election promise to dismantle Safe Schools, an evidence-based program that reduces discrimination and stigma against LGBTIQ people.
Matthew Guy declared at the Australian Christian Lobby conference that a government he leads will abolish safe schools.2
Earlier in the year Graham Watt, Liberal MP for Burwood was at an Anti-Safe Schools Rally convened by far-right religious groups and declared that the Liberal Party would abandon Safe Schools. At this rally others spoke of transgender and gay people and our families as if we were evil and out to destroy society.
Bialik College, Sholem Aleichem and King David College have embraced the principles of the Safe Schools program because they know the program helps build a stronger and more inclusive Jewish community.
What are you and the Liberal Party doing to align with the values of the Jewish community’s leading organisations in terms of strengthening support for LGBTIQ people, not weakening it?
Mr SOUTHWICK — I would like also to congratulate the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for voting in its plenum on 3 August in support of the affiliation of Keshet Australia, JCCV’s first GLBTI affiliate. I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to JCCV members, including their president Jonathan Barnett, on this historic moment. This is the first time a GLBTI organisation has joined a Jewish community roof body in Australia and one of the few that has done so around the world. It is fitting that it happened on the JCCV’s — —
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Angus) — Order! The member’s time has expired.
[ View on Hansard ]