Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities respond to COVID-19

A collection of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities.

Responses to COVID-19 from the Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities

Thorne Harbour Health (Victoria)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update and advice for people living with HIV [Feb 28 2020]
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Mar 12 2020]
Update on COVID-19 for PLHIV [Mar 16 2020]
Sex, Intimacy and Coronavirus [Mar 17 2020]

ACON (New South Wales)
ACON Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement [Mar 15 2020]
Trans and Gender Diverse People and COVID-19 [Mar 18 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Casual Sex and Social Distancing [Mar 20 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON services, programs and events [Mar 23 2020]
Sex in the Era of COVID-19 [Mar 24 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON Regional Services [Mar 26 2020]

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations / National LGBTI Health Alliance
LGBTI people, health and COVID-19 [Mar 17 2020]

Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation [Mar 20 2020]

Hares & Hyenas Bookshop (Victoria)
UPDATE FOR CUSTOMERS & SUPPORTERS [Mar 19 2020]

Minus18 (Victoria)
COVID-19 UPDATE FROM MINUS18 [Mar 20 2020]

Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Information for Victorian Jewish Communal Leaders on Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Mar 17 2020]
Information for Victorian Jewish Communal Leaders on Coronavirus (COVID-19) – UPDATE 2 [Mar 18 2020]

Executive Council of Australian Jewry
ECAJ Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic [Mar 12 2020]
Community response to Coronavirus [Mar 17 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #1 [Mar 20 2020]
COVID-19: ABC’s Dr Norman Swan with a special message for the Australian Jewish community [Mar 23 2020]
What coronavirus means for our school-kids, seders, and saftas [Mar 24 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #2 [Mar 27 2020]
Coping with isolation, fear and anxiety in a time of Coronavirus [Mar 29 2020]

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies
NSW Jewish Community Response to COVID-19 [Mar 18 2020]
COVID-19 pandemic: Message from Board of Deputies President Lesli Berger [Mar 26 2020]

Union for Progressive Judaism
Union for Progressive Judaism Statement on Coronavirus [c Mar 12 2020]

Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand
Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand Statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 [c Mar 12 2020]

Temple Beth Israel (Victoria)
COVID-19 update [Mar 18 2020]

Leo Baeck Centre (Victoria)
LBC Weekly Update 11 March 2020

Jewish Care Victoria
COVID-19 Helpline

Community Security Group (Victoria)
Information on COVID-19 for communal leaders [Mar 23 2020]

This page will be updated as further information comes to hand. We invite readers to contact us with relevant community information.

Beyond politics – a Jewish call for serious climate action

Aleph Melbourne is a signatory to this statement because as an organisation that cares about the well-being of individuals and families, we understand that we must also care about our environment and all life on the planet if we wish to live safely and harmoniously.

Beyond-Politics-a-Jewish-call-for-serious-climate-action

ajn-20200207-p7-Call-for-climate-action

EXTRA MEDIA COVERAGE
THE BIG SMOKE: Beyond politics: A jewish call for serious climate action
PLUS61J: Australian Jewish advocacy groups urge government to ramp up climate strategy
ARRCC: BEYOND POLITICS – A JEWISH CALL FOR SERIOUS CLIMATE ACTION
ABC RN Religion & Ethics Report: Feb 12 (17:14-17:26)
PLUS61J: Why is ECAJ so reluctant to speak out on climate action?

16-yr-old brutally stabbed by his own brother | J-Wire

16-yr-old brutally stabbed by his own brother

July 28, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk

The Jewish LGBTIQ+ community in Australia has responded with “shock and revulsion” to news of a brutal attack against a 16-year-old youth at a LGBTIQ+ youth hostel in Tel Aviv on Friday. 

Tel Aviv stabbing scene Pic: Twitter

According to reports, a teenager was seriously wounded just outside the hostel when he was stabbed in the chest and leg, apparently for religious reasons, by his own brother.

The incident comes within days of the 10th anniversary of the murder of a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl and the injuring of at least fifteen others, most of them minors, at the “Bar-Noar” LGBTIQ+ youth centre in Tel Aviv on 1 August 2009.   It is also five years since 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.

Commenting on the latest incident, Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said, “The attack on a resident at an LGBTIQ+ youth emergency centre is a chilling reminder of how much harder we need to work to break down the intolerance and ignorance that exists in many communities”.

“The 2009 attack in Tel Aviv was the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in the Jewish community in Australia, and as a result our community has come to value the importance of including and embracing its LGBTIQ+ people” Barnett said.  “We are a better, stronger and more cohesive community as a result, although we also know there is much more work to do.  Beliefs and attitudes that incite hate and violence are never acceptable, and we must call them out in all their forms.  Our thoughts are with the injured boy and wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, described Friday’s stabbing as “extremely disturbing”.

“Israel has made great strides in recent years in encouraging respect for and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people, and it is light years ahead of neighbouring countries”’ Wertheim said. “But there is still a long way to go. In Israel, as elsewhere, LGBTIQ+ people still face all too frequent acts of violence motivated by hatred in a social climate that is inflamed by bigoted statements from people in positions of authority.  We hope the young man who was attacked makes a full and speedy recovery and that his ordeal serves to spur political and religious leaders to greater efforts to stamp out anti-LGBTIQ+ violence, and the hatred that gives rise to it.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei passed at Plenum April 16 2019

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei passed at Plenum on April 16 2019.

RESOLUTION

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies:

  1. Reaffirms its policy and that of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ):
  • calling for respect for the sanctity of the lives and dignity of all people; and
  • opposing any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  1. Joins with the ECAJ and:
  • deplores the recent criminalisation of same-sex relationships between consenting adults under Brunei’s Syariah Penal Code, with punishments ranging from whipping and imprisonment through to death by stoning;
  • condemns the government of Brunei for introducing a law that mandates the brutal repression, persecution and death of LGBTIQ people;
  • commends Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong, among others, for publicly expressing to the government of Brunei their strong opposition to the new law; and
  • calls on the Australian government to make known its opposition to the legally-sanctioned persecution and vilification of LGBTIQ people to the governments of all countries in which such persecution and vilification occurs.

Religious Freedom Review: ECAJ ‘cautiously welcomes’ findings + Schools reject discrimination | AJN

See also:

ajn-20181221-p5 ECAJ cautiously welcomes findings + Schools reject discrmination

ECAJ ‘cautiously welcomes’ findings

December 23, 2018

THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has “cautiously welcomed” the long-awaited release of the Religious Freedom Review and the federal government’s response.

The government has endorsed 15 of the 20 recommendations in the report, which was handed down in May but only released last week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government plans to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act, employ a Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission and look to introduce a range of other amendments.

The issue of whether religious schools should be allowed to discriminate based on LGBTI+ status has been deferred for the time being.

“Discrimination on the basis of a person’s identity – including their religious identity – is unacceptable … we [also] respect the right of religious institutions to maintain their distinctive religious ethos. Our laws should reflect these values,” Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter said last week.

“Our commitment to striking an appropriate balance is clear. We are committed to finding a way forward that cuts through the political debates about whether some rights are more important than others.”

ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim said that although the roof body believed religious freedom in Australia is not under threat, “as both an ethnic and a faith community we support the government’s intention ‘to further protect, and better promote and balance, the right to freedom of religion under Australian law and in the public sphere’.”

He said there “should be little controversy” about the endorsed recommendations, but did say the introduction of a Religious Discrimination Act will be more contentious.

“On the one hand the legislation will prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity … on the other hand there will be similar exemptions to those in other anti-discrimination legislation,” he said.

“In practice, however, some difficult situations may arise in which one or the other principle will have to give way, and where no broad social consensus exists as to which principle ought to prevail.”

Wertheim added the creation of the Freedom of Religion Commissioner role was “good sense”.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director of community affairs Jeremy Jones said the government would have a “difficult task trying to get the correct balance between protecting the right of all Australians to enjoy religious freedom while also trying to ensure that we can have full and robust discussion on matters of concern”.

GARETH NARUNSKY

MEDIA RELEASE: Religious Freedom Review and Federal Government Response | ECAJ

MEDIA RELEASE: Religious Freedom Review and Federal Government Response

To download this media release in PDF format, click here.


logo

Religious Freedom Review and Federal Government Response

16 December 2018


The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community, has cautiously welcomed the release of the Religious Freedom Review handed down by the Expert Panel chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock, and the Australian government’s response to it.

“Although we believe that religious freedom in Australia is not, and has never been, under serious threat, as both an ethnic and a faith community we support the government’s announced intention ‘to further protect, and better promote and balance, the right to freedom of religion under Australian law and in the public sphere’”, said ECAJ co-CEO, Peter Wertheim. “Much will depend on the governments of the States and Territories acting in co-operation with the Federal government to achieve that goal”.

“There should be little controversy about 15 of the Expert Panel’s 20 recommendations which the government has accepted either directly or in principle. These would ensure, for example, that charities do not lose their status simply for advocating a traditional view of marriage; that the government collects, analyses and publishes data about various forms of infringement on religious freedom; and that public education programs are developed about human rights and religion in Australia,” Wertheim said.

According to Wertheim, the proposed introduction of a new Religious Discrimination Act will be more contentious. “It’s relatively easy to state the broad principles” he said. “On the one hand the legislation will prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity, including on the basis that a person does not hold a religious belief or participate in a religious activity. On the other hand there will be similar exemptions to those in other anti-discrimination legislation, which enable religious institutions to function in accordance with their religious beliefs and principles. In practice, however, some difficult situations may arise in which one or the other principle will have to give way, and where no broad social consensus exists as to which principle ought to prevail. The devil will be in the detail and I expect that many parts of the Bill when it is introduced will attract passionate debate”.

Wertheim said that if the legislation is passed, there is “good sense” to the government’s proposal for a stand-alone Religious Freedom Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission to oversee religious freedom in Australia and handle religious discrimination complaints.

Wertheim said it was understandable that the Panel’s recommendations for amending the current exemptions to the Sex Discrimination Act might be referred to the Law Reform Commission. “Legislative changes have often had unintended consequences, and it is prudent to try to minimise the scope for these to occur through the well-established processes of the Commission. This is another area where statements of abstract principle can seem more clear-cut than the way they would be applied in real life situations”.

The government has also referred to the Law Reform Commission the Panel’s recommendations that religious schools no longer have the right to discriminate against students or employees on the basis of their race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status. “It’s hard to see how discrimination on these other grounds can have anything to do with religious freedom”, Wertheim said. “I would have expected the government to accept the Panel’s two recommendations about these matters”.

Contact
Peter Wertheim AM | co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8500 | m: 0408 160 904 | fax 02 9361 5888
e: pwertheim@ecaj.org.au | www.ecaj.org.au

ECAJ-Media-Statement-Religious-Freedom-Review-and-Federal-government-response-14.12.2018

 

Wentworth 2018: Candidate responses to ECAJ “Religious Freedom” question

2018 Wentworth by-election candidate responses to ECAJ “religious freedom” question.

[ The information below is drawn from the four linked J-Wire pages.  We have ordered the candidates alphabetically by surname. ]

In the interests of ensuring that our community is properly informed and engaged in the political process The Executive Council of Australian Jewry asked the four candidates currently polling at over 10% of the primary vote (as per the Reachtel poll published on 17 September), to state their positions on matters of special concern to Jewish Australians.

Religious Freedom

The same-sex marriage survey last year has led to claims that religious freedom is not adequately protected in Australia, and that religious institutions and organisations should have enhanced rights to discriminate in favour of members of their own faith, or to promote their own beliefs.

  1. Do you agree?

Licia Heath (Independent) [web site]

The same-sex marriage debate was about removing the state-supported discrimination that was enshrined in law (within the marriage act).  This had no impact on the rights of religious institutions to continue their faith-based practices in the existing manner including practice or promotion of their beliefs.

The Australian community, including the Wentworth community, strongly voiced its support of removing discrimination in Australian law and in civil practice.

To legislate in a manner that establishes, in law, a right to discriminate against a segment of the Australian community is against the majority of strongly held community sentiment and should not be supported.

Allowing a religious, or religiously-affiliated institution to discriminate against one minority group would open the door to other forms of discrimination that are against community values – such as religious discrimination.

If religious schools or institutions practice discrimination outside of the law, and outside of community standards, then they forfeit the right

Tim Murray (Australian Labor Party) [web site]

I am comfortable with the marriage equality legislation passed last year and the protections it provides.

Dr Kerryn Phelps (Independent) [web site]

I believe that all Australians should be free to practice their religion, provided that does not impinge on the rights or freedoms of others.

More than any other group, the Jewish community understands the consequences of discrimination on the basis of religion.

I do not believe in any form of discrimination.

At a time when their only worry should be whether they get their homework done in time, some children have to worry that they may be expelled from school because they are gay or transgender.
We know the consequences of marginalisation and rejection are serious and potentially fatal, with high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in children and young people who are rejected or lack social support if they think they are gay or transgender.

Schools should provide supportive environments for these children and young people.

I believe that religion and faith communities should provide comfort and protection for vulnerable young people, not be the source of distress and despair.

As a doctor I am deeply concerned that after the bruising marriage equality campaign, yet another debate about the personal lives of LGBTQI people will open those wounds again.

Dave Sharma (Liberal Party of Australia) [web site]

Wentworth is quite a progressive community. 80% voted for same-sex marriage, as I did.

I would be opposed to any new measures that impose forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, or anything else.

It is important to many, right across Australia, that people be free to choose their religion and express and practice their beliefs, without intimidation – so long as they practice their beliefs within the framework of the law.

The Government is considering the report of the expert panel chaired by Philip Ruddock, which received 15,000 submissions on this issue. I’m confident the Government will get the balance right.

Dave Sharma, Neo-Nazism and the Jewish Community

Wentworth Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma must condemn the white-supremacist “It’s OK to Be White” motion backed by over a dozen MPs in his party.

Dave SharmaDave Sharma is the Liberal Party candidate in the 2018 Wentworth By-election.

He proudly announced a $2.2million grant from the federal government for security infrastructure for the NSW Jewish community, welcomed by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (NSW JBD):

“The federal government’s grant will help ensure that the security risks faced by the Jewish community are reduced,” he said.

This “urgent” funding was “warmly welcomed” by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ):

“Ensuring the safety and security of all citizens is the first duty of any government”, Wertheim said. “Dave Sharma is to be congratulated for pursuing this matter so energetically with the Federal government. We thank him and the Federal government for recognising the importance and urgency of this issue for our community.”

Attacks on the Jews and LGBTIQ people by white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are nothing new, as we are reminded by the ECAJ:

The “racialists” are a more extreme version of the nationalists. They seek the violent overthrow of democracy and the imposition of an explicitly Nazi dictatorship by “Aryan” whites. The newest such group, Antipodean Resistance, whose Hitler-saluting members hide behind the anonymity of “death’s-head” masks in all their videos and photos, actively promotes and incites hatred and violence. Its anti-Jewish and anti-homosexual posters include graphic images depicting the shooting of Jews and homosexuals in the head. One poster called to “Legalise the execution of Jews”. Other posters urged homosexuals to commit suicide; one of these was widely distributed during the same sex marriage debate.

On October 15 2018 the Australian Senate voted 31-28 to narrowly defeat Senator Pauline Hanson’s “It’s OK to Be White” motion:

27 senators voted with Hanson, including ten government ministers.

Communications minister Mitch Fifield, trade minister Simon Birmingham, indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion, small business minister Michaelia Cash, deputy leader of the Nationals and minister for sport Bridget McKenzie, resources minister Matt Canavan, assistant minister for Home Affairs Linda Reynolds, assistant minister for treasury Zed Seselja, assistant minister for agriculture Richard Colbeck and the assistant minister for international development Anne Ruston all voted in favour.

Before the vote Ruston told the chamber: “The government condemns all forms of racism”.

Liberal senators Eric Abetz, Slade Brockman, David Bushby, Jonathon Duniam, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Lucy Gichuhi, Jane Hume, James McGrath, Jim Molan, Dean Smith, Amanda Stoker and National senators Barry O’Sullivan and John Williams also voted for the motion.

As did One Nation’s Peter Georgiou, Katter Australia Party’s Fraser Anning, Australian Conservatives’ Cory Bernardi and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.

The “It’s OK to Be White” slogan has its origins in the neo-Nazi movement.  The US-based Jewish Anti-Defamation League documents this.

Dave Sharma clearly has the tick of approval from the Jewish community’s leadership.  Now he is aligned with a party from which at least a dozen MPs openly support a motion with its origins unambiguously founded in neo-Nazism.

It is not without irony that the $2.2million urgent security funding promised to the Jewish community, announced by a Liberal Party candidate, and welcomed by the NSW JBD and ECAJ, is likely going to be used to protect the Jewish community from white-supremacist neo-Nazi hate and bigotry fuelled by the very party the candidate belongs to.

Dave Sharma, the NSW JBD and the ECAJ need to urgently condemn the “It’s ok Be White” motion, the absence of which will amount to tacit support.

Danby – principled politician with genuine convictions?

Guest article by Gregory Storer.

Michael Danby MP has let us all know, well before the next election, that he won’t be standing again.Michael Danby MP

The member for Melbourne Ports has been in the seat since 1998.  That’s twenty years.

While Danby may have enjoyed the support of his Jewish constituency, that can’t be said about other demographics within his electorate.

Letters of congratulations and thanks have been pouring in for him.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a glowing summary of Danby’s retirement, saying that it is sad news.  They talk about him being a ‘fearless champion for the arts and for many human rights causes, most especially those which have not been fashionable or popular, or which have attracted the ire of powerful interests.’

They then give two examples, Danby meeting with the Dalai Lama and his ‘passionate advocacy for Israel’.

Danby’s record isn’t so wonderful when it comes to human rights.  Despite his electorate being in the heart of a diverse area with not only a large Jewish population, but also a GLBTIQ cohort, he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a supportive role for his ‘gay community’.

When the horrid knife attack at the Jewish Pride March of 2015 happened, the best he could do was like a tweet from Aleph Melbourne.

Michael Danby Twitter favourite re Jerusalem attackIt was a pretty simple ask. However, Danby has always kept his support for all things Jewish separate from his support for the GLBTIQ community.

When it came to the election in 2010 where I stood against him in Melbourne Ports, it soon became apparent that he didn’t want to muddy the waters.  He never addressed Jewish concerns or GLBITQ issues in the one media release. He ensured that his advertising was separate and had different messages for different audiences.  Which in itself may not be a big issue, except that he failed to represent the views of organisations such as Aleph, barely even acknowledging their existence. His main bragging point to the Jewish voters was how much he and the then-Labor Government had spent in the community; he called it “The golden era of Labor and Jewish Schools”.  Never once did he mention anything about gay rights or all the work he purported to do for the GLBTIQ community.

It’s also worth recalling his response to the horrific shooting of two young people in a gay community centre in Tel Aviv in 2009.  He didn’t have one.

When he was busy crowing about how he managed to change moderation policies on crickey.com.au and newmatilda.com.au, which he described as the “Dark and Ugly Recesses of the Internet” he simply ignored a local orthodox Jewish blog that was blatantly homophobic.  He took issue with Crikey and New Matilda for posting comments regarding the holocaust and talks about the anti-Semitism on their sites. He used his position to persuade them to make the changes. However, he couldn’t bring himself to address that hate blog from his own community that was almost daily pumping out the hate towards the GLBTIQ community.

The whole lack of support can be summed up with his approach to marriage equality.  So while he had been busily chasing the ‘gay vote’ for years in his electorate, he didn’t support equality at all in the parliament, despite claiming he was supportive.  I asked him during a candidates debate and he said that the Labor party would address the matter in the next parliament. He never did. When it did come to a vote, he abstained, he left the floor of the house.  He never attended one marriage equality rally to show support. He barely acknowledged the Pride March that went past his office every year.

So, while everyone is saying how much he’ll be missed and what a great supporter of the community he has been, just remember, the man played politics with the lives of those he was supposed to be representing.

He sought the vote of the gay and the Jewish community, but made sure that he never mention it to either community.

He went out of his way to call out human rights transgressions, but never once publicly supported Aleph in their attempts to raise sexuality and gender identity issues in his electorate.

He really hasn’t been a hero of Melbourne Ports.

Even in departing, he can’t even muster a few gay people to stand with him in front of his Yes window like he did on other occasions.

Danby office rainbow yesDanby office Hands off our ABCDanby office team

Australian Jewish community stands on the right side of history

Thanks go to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry for standing on the right side of history in declaring support for marriage equality.