July 11 2021
Aleph Melbourne notes that on June 8 in a speech calling out racism and antisemitism, whilst invoking survivors of the Holocaust, NSW MP Walt Secord used a derogatory term used to shame effeminate and gay men.
Calling a response “limp-wristed and totally inadequate” only serves to further shame men for their mannerisms. This is an example of toxic masculinity at its worst, and contributes to the negative mental health outcomes many same-sex attracted men experience.
Perhaps Mr Secord is unaware that gay men, some Jewish, also survived the Holocaust. Being effeminate may have been a reason they came to the attention of the Nazi regime.
Mr Secord has form in relation to making homophobic comments. In 2017 he was reported to have made a similarly unacceptable remark in Parliament.
People who stand up for human dignity must not pick and choose who they stand up for. Standing up for Jews must not come at the expense of gay and bisexual men.
Aleph Melbourne calls on Mr Secord to reflect on his behaviour and issue an apology for his unsatisfactory choice of words.
The Hon. WALT SECORD (17:03): As the acting chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and the patron of the New South Wales Labor Israel Action Committee, I comment on the inadequate answer given by the education Minister in relation to a shameful anti-Semitic incident involving an employee of the education department. The Minister’s answer was woefully inadequate and did not respond appropriately to the seriousness of the matter. The Minister said that she and her department reject all forms of racism, but she refused to say whether that person is still employed in her department. I am referring to an article entitled “NSW government staffer behind Hitler slur”, which was published in the 4 June edition ofThe Australian Jewish News and was penned by senior journalist Gareth Narunsky.
The incident relates to an employee of the education department posting on Facebook a photograph of Adolf Hitler with the words “It’s such a shame he didn’t finish his job.” Such a posting is reprehensible for anyone, let alone an employee of the education department. To give an illustration of the community concern about this, as at 4.00 p.m. it was the fourth most-viewed news item onThe Australian Jewish News‘ The Times of Israel website. The incident is deeply offensive to the Jewish community, especially survivors of the Shoah, those who fought Nazism and fascism and any sensible member of the community.
I also concur with the Australasian Union Of Jewish Students activist Gabrielle Stricker-Phelps, who called on the education department to take action. Sadly, the response from the education department has been limp‑wristed and totally inadequate. The education department would only say, “Our code of conduct outlines the expected behaviour of staff,” and “We cannot comment on the particulars of any case.” You have got to be kidding. The education department and the Minister should have condemned outright the actions of the departmental employee in unequivocal terms. I have witnessed and seen this Minister for several years and I am absolutely surprised that she would let this go through to the keeper. I thought that she would have taken action on this and condemned it in unequivocal terms. I am deeply disappointed.
To assist honourable members, I seek leave to table a print out of the offensive social media post, which I referred to in my question and supplementary question for written answer.
Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) said he understood why cartoonists are drawn to the Nazi analogy but described the comparison as repulsive.
The ADC describes itself as one of Australia’s leading civil and human rights organisations. The Australian Jewish community organisation aims to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.
“I recognise how irresistible the Nazi analogy is for cartoonists looking to generate shock and headlines and grab attention. But no matter how strong Leak’s objections to marriage equality advocates, to compare them to the Waffen SS, part of Hitler’s demonic regime and responsible for the murder of millions, only adds to the cynical debasement, twisting and abusing of the Holocaust so prevalent today.” Dr Abramovich said.
“To draw such repulsive equations is deeply offensive, shows a gross lack of understanding of the historical truth, and only fans the flames of hatred and demonisation of the LGBTI community. It also insults the memory of the victims, which included gay people, as well as hurts the survivors and all those who fought valiantly against the Nazis in WWII.
“Such analogies are totally unacceptable, even in satirical cartoons, and only serve to coarsen public debate. They have no place in Australia’s civil discourse and must be repudiated.” Dr Abramovich concluded.
This is the original cartoon:
I refer to Bill Leak’s cartoon (“Waffen SSM”, 21/9). It can be readily accepted that hyperbole is a stock in trade of any cartoonist, and Leak is entitled to give satirical expression to his opinion that certain advocates of same-sex marriage are intolerant to any contrary point of view. Yet to compare them to Nazi SS divisions does little credit to the point he was presumably trying to make.
To liken any advocate of SSM to the perpetrators of mass murder and cruelty in the Nazi era is an inversion of history. In Nazi Germany, about 100,000 suspected homosexuals were arrested and up to 15,000 of them were interned in concentration camps where many were killed.
As a political cartoonist, it is Leak’s job to be provocative and controversial, but this was not his best work.
This is the original cartoon:
RELIGIOUS ACTION & ADVOCACY CENTRE
STATEMENT ON HOMOPHOBIA
The 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade celebrates the 36th anniversary of the continuing struggle for human rights and equality waged by, and for, LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) citizens in Australia, including those in the Jewish and broader community.
It should also provide a strong reminder to us all that there are still many places in the world where people are not only denied these basic rights but are being persecuted because of their sexual orientation.
The Jewish people’s adoption of the mantra “Never again” following the Shoah was to remind society of the devastating destruction caused by the evil forces of the Nazi regime against not only the Jewish people but against many other sections of society, including homosexual men who were forced to wear a pink triangle.
Beyond that, “Never again” was a determined call to ensure that such acts of hatred would not be repeated or condoned by the civilized world, and that Jews would take all possible action to prevent its recurrence.
In recent years there have been unfathomable yet ghastly attacks on the freedoms of LGTBI citizens in countries such as Uganda, Russia and India, including the recent adoption of harsh homophobic laws.
The consequences of this persecution are justifiably likened to the situation that arose during the Nazi era in Europe, and it, therefore, behooves Jewish people around the world to call on their communal and national leaders to speak out and take action against these nations.
As we celebrate the many achievements of the gay and lesbian movement in Australia in making our society more fair and open, the Union for Progressive Judaism calls on our community to use the freedom that we enjoy to condemn all who perpetuate discrimination and persecution based on ignorance.
Incorporated in Victoria Reg. No. A0042291F, ABN No. 96 213 500 277
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