Macnamara Candidates Forum – Question on Discrimination in Religious Schools – April 7 2019

Macnamara Candidates Forum – 2019 Federal Election – Question on discrimination in religious schools

Great Debate Macnamara 2019 banner

The Great Debate: Macnamara (at Glen Eira Town Hall)

AUJS and the AZYC, in partnership with the Australian Jewish News, are proud to present The Great Debate for the federal seat of Macnamara.
In the lead up to the federal election, it is vitally important for our community to ask questions and receive answers about the most pressing issues concerning us. This year, we’re giving YOU the power to ask those most burning questions on your mind. We’re opening up submissions now, so click here to submit your questions.
Venue will be announced closer to the date.
Confirmed to attend are:
Josh Burns (Labor)
Kate Ashmor (Liberal)
Steph Hodgins May (Greens)
This event is open to members of our community of all ages. We’re looking forward to stimulating debate and thoughtful dialogue!

Question by Michael Barnett:

“What is your party doing to ensure that all students, and also all teachers and other staff members, at religious schools are fully protected from both direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or intersex status?”

Listen to the question followed by responses from Steph Hodgins-May (Greens) @ 1:10, Josh Burns (ALP) @ 2:19, and Kate Ashmor (Liberal) @ 3:47:


Live-blogging via Galus Australis Community:

Al M Fein Michael Barnett asking a question about religious discrimination against LGBTQI people.

Hannah Aroni Next qu: what is your party doing to ensure all students and teachers at religious schools are protected from direct and indirect discrimination re their gender, sexuality or intersex status

Al M Fein People in the audience are talking and giggling. How gross. But good applause.

Hannah Aroni Clarifying this is about uniforms, bathrooms, discrimination re parents, hiding relationships or identity, being forced to attend religious ceremonies w hurtful statements

Al M Fein Steph Hodgins May talking about support for Safe School and oppose religious based discrimination.

Al M Fein Talking more about funding mental health.

Al M Fein Huge applause.

Hannah Aroni Steph noting Greens are long time advocates of safe schools and oppose teacher exemptions from protection against discrimination. Also coming back to mental health funding and hoping to continue working w schools and community to keep kids safe. Big youth applause on that!

Al M Fein Josh Burns talking about most of the Jewish schools making statements condemning homophobia.

Hannah Aroni Josh referencing statements from many specific Jewish schools re not wanting the power to discriminate, saying he’s happy about that, saying we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against students or staff.

Al M Fein Josh sinking the boot into Scomo for bringing religious based discrimination back – funding a Pride Centre in St Kilda

Al M Fein Kate Ashmor talking about being in the Midsumma Pride rally.

Hannah Aroni Josh saying last year the PM sent kids home after reversing onthis issue. Says people should imagine kids going home for summer thinking about that. Noting in this electorate 82% voted for marriage equality, noted Labor commitment to building Pride Centre in St K

Al M Fein And Kate says she voted ‘yes’ in the marriage equality debate BUT she’s saying that she will ensure freedom of religion – and institutionalised homophobia.

Al M Fein Talking about funding in the budget for mental health – to applause.

Hannah Aroni Kate saying she voted yes bc as a Lib she supports freedom and human rights. But saying freedom of religion is a cornerstone of the comm and that parents should be able to choose the values taught in schools and saying she will be a strong voice for that. Saying she was happy w the 720 mil funding and 30 new headspace centres, 4 new ED clinics

Hannah Aroni Being pulled back on this to topic by the moderator. Moderator correcting Kate – Kate tried to claim changes to law didn’t pass parliament bc labor refused, Mod says no, this was bc Libs refused to pas Lab changes

Hannah Aroni Kate saying she supports law to protect students, but stands w the PM re teachers and is … wow how do I do justice to this

Al M Fein More men yelling over women.

Hannah Aroni She’s going on about not being a typical pollie and the crowd thinks she’s full of shit, and Josh has pushed back to say this shows where she stands on the issue

Al M Fein Josh just put Kate back in her box after she claimed that she was talking shit because she is not a ‘staffer’

Hannah Aroni Next qu is about pill testing and harm reduction re drug users

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council doesn’t walk its talk

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council don’t walk its talk when it comes to factual accuracy.

On October 9 2017 ABC Media Watch quoted Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s Colin Rubinstein:

“We do critique journalists and media stories when we see factual errors, lack of context, or unprofessionalism …”
— Dr Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director, AIJAC, 28 July 2017

It is disappointing that Colin Rubinstein is taking the high moral ground on matters of factual accuracy.

AIJAC remains unrepentant for a matter of factual inaccuracy that Aleph Melbourne called them out on in 2016 (see AIJAC should apologise for unsubstantiated criticism of Greens policy).

It would be good to hear AIJAC’s apology for their factual inaccuracy and perceived bias.

AIJAC should apologise for unsubstantiated criticism of Greens policy

On June 27 2016 the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) published an article by Ahron Shapiro critical of the Australian Greens entitled “The Greens and Israel“.

The article opened with the following caution:

Pre-election polling and analysis suggests the Australian Greens party is likely to pick up one or more lower house seats this election – on top of retaining the seat of Melbourne. This gives it the potential to not only hold the balance of power in the Senate, but if a hung parliament results from this election, also determine who forms government – with very significant leverage over the minority government thus formed.

and concluded with the following section on domestic policy:

Religious Exemptions

A further issue in the Greens platform likely to concern many in Australia is its policy of removing clauses granting limited exemptions to religious organisations from anti-discrimination laws. This would likely impact significantly on Jewish schools and other communal institutions and concern has been expressed about this policy by Jewish community leaders.

Aleph Melbourne approached AIJAC for clarification of the “significant impact” and the “expressed concern” referred to in the article.

Colin Rubinstein, AIJAC Executive Director, provided the following explanation:

In response to your query I refer you to the story below in the Australian from May 24.
While it may be that there was not much Jewish reaction in the press on the Greens plan, the reaction that was published was top-level.
Peter Wertheim does not comment on every story he is approached for, and his decision to comment here, I would say, well  reflected his confidence and our feedback too that he was conveying the community’s sentiment expressed anecdotally behind the scenes.
At any rate, our mention of this plan took up a very small part of our overall report on the Greens, and should be put in proper perspective.

Colin also provided the two source paragraphs from the May 24 2016 article “Federal election 2016: Greens under pressure on religion reforms” in The Australian by David Crowe:

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders are objecting to the Greens plan to remove the religious ­exemptions, saying it could force people to act against their faith.

and:

Executive Council of Australian Jewry director Peter Wertheim said: “It would be wrong and unworkable for the law to compel people to do things that are contrary to their religious beliefs or conscience.’’

Independently, Aleph Melbourne had contacted Peter Wertheim, Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, on May 24 2016 about the aforementioned article, querying if he had been quoted accurately.  Peter provided the following response:

Here is the whole quote I gave to The Australian.

It is appropriate for the law to ensure that people are  not discriminated against at work or in accessing education, housing and other services, because of their race, gender, sexual preference, age or disability.    However, it would be wrong and unworkable for the law to compel people to do things that are contrary to their religious beliefs or conscience. 

My comment would therefore not apply to a proposed change to the definition of marriage in section 5[1] of the Marriage Act.  But it would apply to a proposed repeal of section 47[2] of the Marriage Act. My understanding is that the proponents of marriage equality are only seeking the former, not the latter. I didn’t refer specifically to the Greens, but given the vagueness and generality of Senator McKimm’s statements I couldn’t work out what he was proposing, and therefore thought it was right to comment.

It is evident that AIJAC was not aware of Peter Wertheim’s full quote supplied to The Australian, and by inference was similarly unaware that Peter was referring to issues relating to the Marriage Act and not anti-discrimination legislation.

AIJAC was lobbying their interest groups to vote unfavourably for the Greens in the July 2 2016 Federal election.  Religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation directly impact LGBTIQ Australians, some of whom are Jewish, who are employed by Jewish organisations.  It is deeply disappointing that AIJAC targeted the Greens anti-discrimination policy based on an unsubstantiated claim, more so when it has the potential to hurt some of the most vulnerable members of society.

It is also deeply disappointing that AIJAC attempted to minimise the significance of mentioning the paragraph about the Greens policy on removal of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation.  The damage to people’s lives due to this exemption is amply significant.

An apology from AIJAC to the Greens and to LGBTIQ people for their unfair criticism of the Greens policy would be appreciated.

[1] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma196185/s5.html
[2] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma196185/s47.html

Loree Rudd urged to say sorry for gay slur | SMH

Loree Rudd urged to say sorry for gay slur

July 15, 2011 – 7:04PM

AAP

The Anti Defamation Commission has joined calls for former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s sister to apologise over an anti-gay marriage remark.

Loree Rudd is lobbying federal MPs and threatening to quit Labor if the party backs gay marriage at its national conference in December.

She accused some Labor members of being brainwashed by a “global gay Gestapo” this week.

The ADC, Australia’s peak Jewish human rights body, said she should apologise.

“It is completely unacceptable for anyone to co-opt and trivialise the name of one of the most active and feared arms of the Nazi machinery for their own political purposes,” ADC chairman Anton Block said in a statement on Friday.

“The Gestapo was directly responsible for the murders of Jewish, Romani, homosexual and disabled people.

“To use its name in this context shows a level of ignorance and insensitivity that has no place in contemporary political discourse.

“It is highly offensive, and we call upon Ms Rudd to apologise immediately and unreservedly.”

Four state ALP conferences have endorsed changes to legalise same-sex marriage under federal law. NSW Labor last week refused to back the proposal and referred the issue to the national conference.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not have any plans to change the marriage act.

The coalition also opposes legislating for same-sex marriage but the Greens support it.