Joint LGBTIQ+ community statement in support of religious discrimination protections

We, the undersigned LGBTIQ+ advocates, organisations and allies, place on the public record our support for protections from discrimination for people of all faiths, and for people who don’t hold religious beliefs, provided these laws do not sanction new forms of discrimination against others.

As members of LGBTIQ+ communities, we have seen and experienced firsthand the immense harm discrimination causes. Discrimination has a devastating impact on physical and mental health, and an individual’s sense of acceptance and belonging.

We strongly believe that no one should be treated as ‘less than’ because of who you are or what you believe.

For more than forty years, we have advocated for the removal of discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. We have stood in solidarity with women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and many others in their fight for equal treatment under the law.

So too we stand with all people of faith in their fight against discrimination because of their religious beliefs, including discrimination against people because they don’t hold religious beliefs. We recognise and acknowledge the many LGBTIQ+ people of faith, and the positive steps taken by many faith groups and schools to model genuine inclusion, showing how the rights of all can be integrated harmoniously.

We call on the Australian Parliament to introduce laws that appropriately strengthen that shield of protection for people facing discrimination because of their religious beliefs or because they don’t hold religious beliefs.

Equally, we caution the Australian Parliament against laws that would give some people within society a ‘sword’ to use their beliefs to harm others by cutting through existing anti-discrimination protections.

We will oppose any new laws which would give religious groups a license to discriminate against others in a way that would sanction mistreatment or wind back the clock on equality.

And we will continue to call for the removal of existing laws which allow religious schools to exclude and discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers across the country, and from critical government funded services.

Australia has long prided itself as being the land of the fair go. Australians have consistently demonstrated that they value equality before the law – as shown by the overwhelming majority who voted YES during the marriage equality postal survey, including people of faith.

Australia is well on the path towards becoming a more equal place, and we support fair and balanced protections from discrimination for all people which move us forward on this journey.

Signatories:

  1. ACON
  2. ACT LGBTIQ Ministerial Advisory Council
  3. Activate Church
  4. AIDS Action Council
  5. AIS Support Group Australia
  6. Aleph Melbourne
  7. Amnesty International Australia
  8. Australian Catholics for Equality
  9. Australian Council of Social Services
  10. Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
  11. Australian Marriage Equality
  12. Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland
  13. Bisexual Community Perth
  14. Curtin University Centre for Human Rights Education
  15. Democracy in Colour
  16. Equal Voices
  17. Equality Australia
  18. Equality Gilmore
  19. Equality Tasmania
  20. Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW
  21. GLBTI Rights in Ageing
  22. Goulburn Valley Pride
  23. Human Rights Law Centre
  24. Intersex Human Rights Australia
  25. Just Equal
  26. LGBTI Legal Service
  27. Minus 18
  28. National LGBTI Health Alliance
  29. Parents of Gender Diverse Children
  30. PFLAG Tasmania
  31. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  32. Queensland AIDS Council
  33. Queer Society
  34. Rainbow Families NSW
  35. Rainbow Families Victoria
  36. Rainbow Territory
  37. Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church of Western Australia
  38. South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance
  39. Stonewall
  40. Switchboard
  41. The Equality Project
  42. Thorne Harbour Health
  43. Trans Folk of WA
  44. Trans Health Australia
  45. Transcend Support
  46. Transgender Victoria
  47. Twenty10
  48. Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network
  49. Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby
  50. Welcoming Australia
  51. Zoe Belle Gender Collective

Download the joint statement

Source: https://equalityaustralia.org.au/media-release-50-lgbtiq-organisations-and-allies-from-every-state-and-territory-support-affirming-religious-discrimination-bill


JointStatementLGBTIQEqualityReligiousDiscriminationAct_logos_final


UPDATE from Equality Australia – July 19 2019:

This week, we released a joint statement, signed by more than 50 organisations representing LGBTIQ+ people, people of faith, people of colour, women and our allies.

We understand that some religious organisations have targeted and discriminated against LGBTIQ+ people, and this continues today. They have done this largely with impunity and legal exemptions from some anti-discrimination laws. We utterly condemn this behaviour and will continue to advocate for fairer, stronger protections against discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people.

We do not know exactly what will be in the Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Act. We have a fair sense of what might be included, and where religious lobby groups want the laws to go further. And we have been calling for the details of the bill to be released to prevent confusion and fear about what it might contain.

But we can state what we want – fair protections from harmful discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people and people of faith, as well as freedom from religion.

We stand firm with people of colour and people of faith in their need for fair and affirming protections from discrimination. There can be no doubt that people from religious minorities and people of colour are under attack in Australia – white supremacy is one of the most violent and prevalent threats faced by these communities, and we will stand with them in their fight against persecution.

We know that most Australians believe in fairness. At the same time, there is a vocal but dangerous minority which seeks to attack others under the guise of religion – including increasing targeting of trans and gender diverse communities.

Our opponents have no scruples in trying to divide LGBTIQ+ communities from people of colour and faith communities. When we buy into the their tactic that this is about Christians versus LGBTIQ+ people, we lose. We ignore the LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and pretend they don’t exist. We accept that the ACL and other minority views speak for ‘all’ Christian people, which we know to be false.

These debates are scary for all of us. We understand that. Especially for those of us who were raised in unsupportive faith communities, and understand how some people of faith view LGBTIQ+ people like us.

But buying into the ACL’s frame means we are fighting on their terms, the one they’re trying to win in the LNP party room.

We are stronger when we stand with our allies – with affirming people of faith who welcome LGBTIQ+ people into their congregations, with people of colour who marched alongside us for marriage equality, with women who are also being targeted for ‘religious exemptions’ around access to reproductive healthcare.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from affirming faith groups and multicultural organisations about their experiences of discrimination. We ask that you listen to the stories of LGBTIQ+ people of faith in our communities, and continue to take care of each other during these debates.

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

David Southwick 2015 statement on Keshet gaining JCCV membership

18 AUG 2015

MEMBER’S STATEMENT: JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF VICTORIA

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 ]

Jewish LGBTI Youth! – Jews All Diverse & Equal | Minus18


At the JCCV Plenum tonight, the Hon Robin Scott, Minister for Multicultural Affairs launched a 8.5 min video developed by the JCCV young LGBTI advisory group, which aims to highlight that you can be Jewish and LGBTI. The aim is for a fully welcoming and respectful Jewish community, where Jews of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity participate actively in the community. Everyone is to be treated with respect, dignity and equity.



ECAJ & Marriage Equality

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 16 February 2016 at 22:06
Subject: ECAJ & Marriage Equality
To: Peter Wertheim <PWertheim@ecaj.org.au>, Robert Goot <president@ecaj.org.au>

Hi Peter, Robert,
 
I see the ECAJ are keen to discuss “LGBT equality” for it’s ideological purposes:
 
http://www.ecaj.org.au/2016/open-letter-to-the-anti-israel-left
 
Ordinarily this use of LGBTI people would not bother me but given Australia doesn’t have LGBTI equality and given your organisation exists to promote the welfare (eg equality) of Australians, it seems you’re taking a liberty with the liberties LGBTI Australians don’t yet have.
 
Allow me to remind you of your platform:
 

This Council:
1.1 NOTES that it is the vision of the ECAJ to create and support a community in which all Australians, including all Jewish Australians:
(a) feel valued and their cultural differences are respected;
(b) have a fair opportunity to meet their material and other needs; and
(c) are equally empowered as citizens to participate in and contribute to all facets of life in the wider community;

Right now I’m not feeling especially valued, not do I have fair opportunity to meet my needs, and am not empowered to participate in or contribute to all facets of life in the wider community.  I am sure I speak for others too.
 
On this particular ground, I’d really like your organisation to sign its name to marriage equality so LGBTI people in Australia can have equal rights, similarly to those of the people you are so proud to show off in your open letter.
 
To this end, Australian Marriage Equality have provided a simple mechanism to facilitate your addition to their list of over 800 supporters:
 
http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/non-profit-support
 
It would also be an ideal opportunity for the ECAJ to follow in the footsteps of Bialik College, a proud supporter of marriage equality.
 
How soon can you arrange this support?
 
Regards,
Michael.
0417-595-541.

Jews All Diverse and Equal Video Competition! | Minus18 + JCCV

From Minus18:

We’re working on a very exciting new project with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria!

It’s a video competition all about showcasing the experiences of Jewish young people to help combat LGBTI discrimination!

Entries close on October 30th! Get in fast!

Go to http://jccv.org.au/jade for more information!

Minus18 is Australia’s largest youth-led organisation for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. This is where we belong.

Website https://minus18.org.au

Chaim Levin responds to Eli Nash’s defense of Dr Norman Goldwasser

Chaim Levin has supplied Aleph Melbourne with his response to Eli Nash’s defense of Dr Norman Goldwasser.  Eli’s comments appear in block-quoted italics below and his original post is on Facebook is here.  Chaim’s original post on Facebook is here.


Eli Nash, a powerful and important advocate for survivors of sexual abuse recently declared his frustration and concern that Doctor Norman Goldwasser was disinvited to speak at an upcoming event hosted by Tzedek in Australia about issues of sexual abuse. I’ve written this in response and am posting it here as well as on this thread. I believe that this conversation is long overdue but it’s crucial that we keep it respectful and honest.

 

Dear Eli,

I wanna start out by saying thank you for everything you have done for us survivors on a big scale and on a small scale. Just a few months ago you stepped in to personally assist me through something that I probably wouldn’t have survived without your generous help. Please know that there isn’t a day that goes by where I am not grateful for your unrelenting support.

That being said, you might understand why I’ve been very very hesitant to throw myself into this debate with you.  I realize that I most likely won’t change yours and your supporters’ minds on this issue but that isn’t my goal anymore. I want the thousands reading this thread see that there are two sides to every coin. There’s the way you’re presenting it based solely on your personal experiences, but then there’s the clinical and scientific side which is ultimately what needs to be adhered to the most.

Firstly, I’d like to address your full post section by section. Your initial post is separated into sections and in quotes in Italic, my response are in regular font. After that, there’s a list of reasons why despite all the praise you have given this person, he is not the right guy to be lecturing anyone about healing sexual abuse.

“Tsedek decision to cancel Dr Goldwasser is as tragic as it is predictable. Perhaps the most challenging feat for any organization is to stay true to their mission in the face of pressure, criticism and intimidation. In canceling Dr Goldwasser, they failed to demonstrate true commitment to their stated mission of providing advocacy and support to Jewish victims/survivors of sexual abuse.

The few in the LGBT community that were vocal and outspoken against Dr Goldwasser, in a combined effort with websites who view Jewish Orthodoxy as a failure or anonymously publicize what they consider to be the “foolish” aspect of Jewish orthodoxy, would like you to believe that by allowing Dr. Goldwasser to speak, they are hurting victims and survivors of sexual abuse who identify as LGBT. They assert that the suggestion that sexual orientation is in any way influenced by abuse or that they can be “fixed” is damaging and offensive. By Tsedek supporting a Doctor who has said both these things, they are not staying true to their mission of supporting survivors.”

So far, I haven’t heard anyone in this debate refer to orthodoxy as foolish and I’m not quite sure what this anonymous aspect is that you refer to. So far, on our side of this conversation we have all been using our real names and have been respectful and fair. We choose to focus on the facts and information while many of you have resorted to personal attacks. By telling people that this is a conspiracy to “have you believe”, you are implying that we are trying to make people believe something that isn’t true, this is where your first problem is. The only thing we would like people to believe are the facts and the data. I don’t need to try and convince people to believe us that this hurts LGBT survivors, we are telling you that it hurts us but you are continuing to categorically ignore it for your own personal reasons that have nothing to do with the date, science and the facts in this matter.

The suggestion that orientation is influenced by abuse is not offensive as much as it is ignorant. There are no studies that prove anything of the sort. The suggestion that we can and need be fixed is offensive and rightfully so. Using people’s abuse as a means to convince them that they are broken is cruel and irresponsible especially when these theories were born out of your own logic and personal experiences/understanding of this.

“This is what they would have you believe.”

Because a doctor who says these things is not someone who should be telling abuse survivors how they can heal when his philosophy is clearly rooted in something other than legitimate science.

“In actuality though, Tsedek would be wise not to take their cues on mission from groups whose own mission is to shame the constituents Tsedek is there to serve. If Tsedek intends to accomplish their stated mission of supporting and advocating for Jewish victims of sexual abuse, being dragged into a debate for the political or agenda-driven benefit of some will not allow them to do so. This is especially so considering the fact that those most vocal on this matter also take issue with Orthodox Judaism’s view on homosexuality.”

We are not trying to shame anyone, especially not orthodox survivors of abuse. Where you got this conclusion from is as mysterious as the rest of what you believe but you’re entitled to your opinion. Personally, I do not take issue with orthodoxy’s view on homosexuality. There are many issues that many orthodox Jews  themselves have with the Torah but this isn’t about debating the Torah. Yes, I take issue with the homophobia that’s been created as a result of this view but it’s not my mission to change the Torah.

“There are many clear and obvious reasons why the LGBT community does not want to be told their condition can be fixed or is the cause of abuse. They are understandable goals and continuing to push this can and will have obvious benefits to many in the LGBT community. LGBT’s have suffered from horrible discrimination. By advocating the above in other instances, they have helped to improve the lives of many who identify as LGBT and their families.”

Being LGBT isn’t a condition.

“In this case, sadly, their argument was hijacked, distorted and used for subversive means.

As an example, while there are survivors who are offended when one asserts that abuse can result in sexual confusion, there are also many survivors who are hurt by the fact that some would have them believe that their struggles with sexuality are NOT a result of their abuse. A young woman I know was repeatedly abused by older men and women as a child. To this day, while the woman considers herself to be straight, she feels a compulsive urge to have sex with older men and women. The few times she does engage in this behavior results in uncontrollable bouts of self loathing, depression and more.

Were we to suggest to this young woman that she was born with a compulsive urge to have sex with older men and women (by her own words they are people that she does not find beautiful or physically attractive) and that the abuse played no part in it, she too would be offended and hurt.

Several months ago, I spoke before a group at an in-patient recovery center about my story of child sexual abuse and the continuing healing process. After I finished my story, a young man heavily addicted to drugs, stood up and told everyone in the crowd how a relative of his performed anal sex on him when he as a young boy. To this day, he reported, he has an obsession with viewing pornography similar to his abuse experience. While he identifies as gay, he is unable to engage in certain sexual behaviors that remind him of the abuse although he derived pleasure from viewing it.

To somehow suggest to him that his experiences in no way shaped his future struggles (specifically unable to engage in certain behaviors) would be offensive and hurtful to him – a card carrying member of the LGBT community.

On and on we can go. What one finds comforting, another will find hurtful”.

You are using anecdotal evidence to support claims that have zero basis science. We don’t use anecdotal evidence to help people with medical and psychological issues. While these examples are indeed sad, you’re again missing the point. Your highlighting the TYPES of people are attracted to within those gender groups, not on the fact that they’re attracted to the people of those genders. You are comparing the type of man or woman someone is attracted to, rather than the fact that they are attracted to a man or a woman or both. It’s different to analyze and to try and discover parts of our attractions but this conversation is about the actual gender which is completely different and again, impossible to be changed. We don’t use anecdotal evidence to cure health issues, and we should absolutely not use anecdotal evidence for psychological issues either. Unsurprisingly, groups like JONAH rely purely on anecdotal evidence to support their claims.

Lots of facts surrounding these issues are indeed terribly painful for many different people based on their experiences. But what you’re suggesting is that we should disregard  facts, science, and the research in order to make people more comfortable. Yes, people should feel safe, respected and more comfortable, but we can’t appeal to people who don’t feel safe by lying to them and telling them that they can in fact change when we know they can’t.

I fully agree that these patients should address the issues surrounding their sexuality and intimacy with professionals but I do not agree that you can make such a bold claim based on experiences of a few and expect that to speak for everyone else. Yes, being sexually abused causes serious issues with sexuality in many ways, but the issue of who we are attracted to is not one of those issues. We need to focus on how the abuse affected our capacity to be intimate and feel safe while having intimate encounters in our adult life. One detail, the detail of the gender of who those encounters are with is not nearly as important as the rest of them. But to be clear, I’m not saying that someone struggling with who their attracted to shouldn’t be addressed, but it certainly shouldn’t be addressed by lying to them and offering them false hope that this can be cured or fixed.

Finally, even if we accept the premise that one knows that his orientation of whom he’s attracted to was impacted by abuse, that does not mean that they can alter it and I have yet to see anyone prove otherwise.

“Some of the arguments proposed by those demanding of Tsedek to disassociate from Dr Goldwasser, is that science is clearly on their side. But these same proponents of science today and the absolute infallibility of the reports they quote, were the same that railed against science when homosexuality was included in the DSM. Science can not be used as one desires to support a claim and Tsedek need not involve themselves in these studies that others feel are politicized and agenda driven.”

Yes, 40 years ago scientists believed many things that we know to be true today. That logic isn’t enough not to listen to science today.

“There are no doubt many areas where the LGBT community disagree with Orthodox Judaism. Tsedek should not allow those differences to be highlighted but instead continue to focus on the areas where we all agree: children should not have to experience sexual abuse.”

Correct, and survivors who were already sexually abused should not be manipulated into a situation where they will be abused again by those claiming to help the.

“To add to the complexity of human sexuality, Dr. Goldwasser’s beliefs are understandably influenced by his religion. After all, he is an Orthodox Jew. While I find his beliefs in this particular area to be extremely nuanced allowing for the complexity of human sexuality, human behavior, religious beliefs, the right of self determination, and many other considerations, there is no doubt he advocates for a belief that some in the LGBT community find threatening. What they won’t tell you though is that anyone he were to be replaced with, others who also happen to be survivors would find threatening. With subjects as divisive and complex as human sexuality and religion, is there anyway for one person to appeal to everyone?”

Maybe not but it’s possible to feature someone who isn’t as offensive and controversial as Doctor Goldwasser is.

I hope this sufficiently addresses your grievances with the recent cancellation of Doctor Goldwasser. The truth is that many of the things you expressed are more of a sideshow and ignore the substance of the concerns that many of us have had for a long time. Most people involved in this conversation can’t fully debate science because we are not doctors and aren’t involved in the scientific research that goes into these arguments.

We know that there are other professionals with vast experience dealing with trauma who exist and who the frum communities trust. Why must you insist that Doctor Goldwasser is the only one to deliver this message? Isn’t the fact that this issue has already caused so many problems for many supporters of JCW enough to reconsider? That engaging in this protracted debate is damaging to your cause? Meyer Seewald couldn’t be more accurate this morning when he told me by text that he would much rather be facing criticism for organizing an anti abuse event in Williamsburg or Lakewood and I agree with that. While this is a legitimate conversation that is long overdue, the us against you nature of the way this conversation has turned is toxic and divisive. I can only assume that the insistence to defend someone with so many issues comes from ego and not from logic. Logic would say that we should do our best to keep everyone happy within reason. Doctor Goldwasser not speaking until he publicly clarifies his positions and commits to never saying and doing such things again is very much within reason. Defending every action of his and trying to portray this as some type of agenda driven problem is not within reason.

So far Eli, you have accused me and others of having an agenda even though you fail to clarify what that agenda is. In a phone call a few months ago you said to me that your only concern is to keep children safe and you accused me of not sharing that concern. Others have resorted to personal attacks against us and yet NO ONE has addressed these glaring issues that would be enough to get anyone else under any other circumstances fired and disinvited from speaking publicly about such serious issues:

  1. License/suspension issues: No matter what the reasons behind them are, the fact is that this happened and he was disciplined on more than one occasion. Maybe by itself these are things that can eventually forgotten but this is just the first in a long list of problems with Doctor Goldwasser. When someone has a long list of separate issues that many find unappealing it would be wise to stay away from controversy and use someone whose message won’t be distorted by the many different problems that people have with them.
  2. Recent remarks about gay people: Doctor Goldwasser’s recent remarks at JCW events highlighted that he still does not only believe in this, but practices it himself. His snarky references to his patient from South beach was inappropriate and didn’t belong in a speech about sexual abuse. Moreover, Doctor Goldwasser himself said that this patient was “convinced” that he couldn’t change and that it was too late for Doctor Goldwasser to help him in this aspect. Those are not the words of someone who distanced himself from these things.
  3. Issues raised by previous patients: More than one former patient of Doctor Goldwasser have recounted some very concerning issues with him during their course of treatment with him. The fact that there are multiple people making these claims, some of whom are survivors of abuse, should be more than enough reason not to give Doctor Goldwasser a platform as has been done for quite some time. The fact that the people who gave him this platform have been alerted to these concerns and have still failed to act is what’s even more perplexing. Just because some and maybe even many people had good experiences with him, that isn’t the standard that we set for professionals who we entrust to treat the most vulnerable. By answering these claims of people with your current logic, that you know over 30 people who have been helped by him, once again you are ignoring the more important aspect of this which is that the first rule of medicine is “Do no harm”. If there have been complaints about Doctor Goldwasser in the past and you continue to support him you are telling those people that their experiences don’t matter as much as your own. In my opinion, that is not the way to reach survivors and those who care about us.
  4. Association with conversion therapy. Despite what you would like to have the world believe, by his own admissions, Doctor Goldwasser’s is still very much engaged in this practice. As I’ve told you and others at JCW privately over a year ago, it is not on us to guess his current position after he’s made that position clear and public over the course of many years. By writing articles in favor of groups like JONAH and their affiliates, by signing the Torah declaration and not since removing his name, and by making comments such as the one mentioned above as recently as 3 months ago, he is proving that you are you are lying for him.

To dig a little deeper though, conversion therapy has been decried as a form of sexual abuse. While I’m doing my best to make this conversation less personal about me, I can safely say that I was sexually abused in conversion therapy. In other words, the folks who Doctor Goldwasser endorses told me that they have the answers for survivors of abuse and the tools to heal us. And yet, instead of helping us, they retraumatized us in more ways than one. Are you telling me that you’re comfortable being that closely associated with something that in itself is considered a form of abuse? Are you saying that even the perception that you endorse this isn’t enough to make you fully denounce this and any association to Doctor Goldwasser? Rational thought would say that this in itself should be problematic enough for you to accept that this was maybe a mistake on Goldwasser’s part and the most you can do now is be quiet and accept that all actions have consequences, not even Doctor Goldwasser is immune to that.

I’d really love it if you can explain how even though these concerns about retraumatization and nudity have been made public, did Doctor Goldwasser signing a document that states unequivocally that the only answer for Jewish LGBT people is exactly those things. How can he as a supposed professional ever justify saying that the only answer for survivors of abuse it to be placed into an environment where unlicensed professionals conduct human experiments based on junk science that has been condemned over and over again. I have yet to receive a straight answer to this question and now would be a really good time.

JONAH has been exposed to have treated sexual predators and pedophiles. They have admitted under oath that they “treat” pedophiles in their groups and on their weekends. Yet at the same time, they target survivors of abuse and lure them into using their services. How can anyone ever justify putting survivors and abusers in the same therapeutic group? If you need proof that JONAH does this just ask Meyer about the time that the head of JONAH contacted him and tried convincing him to list JONAH on JCW’s website as a resource for survivors of abuse. What’s worse, these organizations never bothered reporting any of this. Can you explain how it is that you’re willing to overlook such a problematic detail? One would think that your claim to be advocating first and foremost for victims of abuse should make you want to distance yourself as far as possible from being associated with this by any extension, unless you think that survivors and abusers in the same group is acceptable. At this point I’m starting to think that this is your opinion because you’ve repeatedly failed to address this. And while I recognize that this is more of an issue for Doctor Goldwasser, you’ve made it your mission to defend and support him so these are things that you are now personally on the line for.

They say that with great power comes great responsibility. You were granted great power to speak to and for many of us who were victims of abuse. However at this point you have taken that power and used it to promote something that’s evil and dangerous. You have made this conversation about the few that are being helped by this and disregarded the many others who were hurt. You are ignoring the scientific evidence and the data that states unequivocally that trying to change one’s orientation can result in disastrous consequences.

Some people on this thread have correctly pointed out that the Tzedek event wasn’t about conversion therapy. While that’s very true, Doctor Goldwasser’s remarks have turned it into just that. If he would’ve not said those things and the most recent events during April, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation now. So yes, this isn’t about conversion therapy but it’s been turned into that by Doctor Goldwasser and his supporters.

I will not continue to comment on this and go back and forth with others. I have no intention of addressing petty comments about who is a better advocate and who has done more, those are side issues and aren’t relevant to the bottom line. We can have a pissing contest over who has done more but at the end of the day we all have the same goal in mind and that is to protect children. We need to make sure that the children we protect aren’t only the ones who sexual orientation fit within the parameters of one belief system over another. Remember, that words in the hands of a psychologist can be like a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon. If a psychologist isn’t careful with that scalpel he can cause long term irreversible damage. That’s what this is about, that’s what this has always been about and that’s what this will continue being about.

In closing, I think that Tzedek’s decision was not only the right one, but exemplified what true leadership looks like. The ability to admit that you made a mistake and to accept other people’s feedback in order to accommodate everyone is one that eludes many others involved in this debate. I truly hope that we can learn by example from Tzedek and make sure that no one is ever given a platform to disseminate such harmful, inaccurate and cruel messages about certain abuse survivors as long as they are nice to the rest of them.


 

Anti-Defamation Commission response to Jerusalem knife attack

Anti-Defamation Commission

B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission denounces stabbing at Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem

July 31, 2015

The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) has denounced the stabbing of six people during Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade. According to news reports, the suspect arrested by police, Yishai Shlissel, carried out a similar attack in 2005 in which three marchers were wounded.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the ADC, issued the following statement:

“We are shocked  and outraged by this despicable and senseless hate crime. We agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that, “In the State of Israel the freedom of personal choice is one of the basic values we cherish. We must guarantee that in Israel, every man and women will live in safety in any way they choose.” Individuals must never be deliberately singled out and attacked because of their sexual orientation, and it is the duty of every political and religious leader to speak out against such brutal violence. We commend the police for the quick arrest of the suspect and look forward to seeing those responsible for this heinous act prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, their families, and the LGBTI community, and we wish the injured a full and speedy recovery.”

For more information, please contact Dr. Dvir Abramovich on, 9272-5677

Rabbi Is Out Of Line & Out Of Touch With The Community | JCCV

Rabbi Is Out Of Line & Out Of Touch With The Community

16 February 2015

Jewish Community Council of VictoriaMuch of the evidence presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over the past two weeks has been seriously disturbing, appalling and distressing. One of the lows was the statement made by Rabbi Zvi Telsner, a senior rabbi in the Yeshivah community, that homosexuals can be ‘cured’.

This is repulsive, ignorant and insulting, demonstrating a serious departure from the views of the mainstream Jewish community.

Rabbi Telsner also linked paedophilia and homosexuality in his testimony. Any such linking is disturbing and indeed toxic. Those comments are poisonous to people of diverse sexual preference, their families and friends.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) signed up to the ‘No To Homophobia’ campaign in 2013, the first and possibly only faith community to do so and we urged our affiliates to do likewise.  26 Jewish community organisations have also signed up to the campaign, including the Australian Union of Jewish students (AUJS), Progressive Judaism Victoria, Jewish Care, Jewish Aid, the Jewish Holocaust Centre and the Jewish Museum. Obviously Rabbi Telsner, whose organisation is not affiliated to JCCV, did not sign up.

View Related Article in “Star Observer”

Aleph Melbourne convenor Michael Barnett on JOY 94.9 Saturday Magazine – April 15 2015

JOY 94.9 Satuday MagazineThe Saturday Magazine program on JOY 94.9 invited Aleph Melbourne convenor Michael Barnett to talk about work of the organisation and LGBTIQ issues in Melbourne’s Jewish community.

This interview was broadcast live to air from the JOY studios on April 4 2015 at 10:45am. Program host was David ‘Macca’ McCarthy with guest host Wil Anderson.

(Download MP3 10MB)