Fight for LGBT Civil Rights
We educate and rally the Jewish community to advance LGBT civil rights. Keshet was instrumental in mobilizing Jewish community support for equal marriage rights in Massachusetts and, as a founding member of the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality, helped advance the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Bill, finally signed into law in 2011. In Colorado, Keshet is partnering with LGBT and Jewish organizations to rally Jewish community support for civil unions.
Posted on 11 January 2013
Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby (pictured) continues to come under fire from marriage equality advocates and constituents for abstaining on last year’s gay marriage vote in the federal Parliament.
The Melbourne Ports electorate includes the suburbs of Southbank, South Melbourne, Albert Park, Balaclava, parts of Caulfield and St Kilda, where the annual Pride March is held.
The Labor MP was one of 10 Lower House members who did not vote on September 19. The marriage equality bill, introduced by Labor MP Stephen Jones, was voted down 98 to 42. Melbourne Ports resident Darren Tyrrell told the Star Observer he and his partner were very disappointed in Danby’s decision.
“I don’t think he wants to stick his neck out on it,” he said.
When Tyrrell met with Danby to discuss gay marriage last year, he said the MP was sympathetic but non-committal.
“He told us the Catholic Church had been lobbying him really hard, probably more than anyone else,” Tyrrell said.
“I’m disappointed because I always thought he was a politician who stood up for human rights, he stands up for people’s human rights overseas but he doesn’t do it in his own electorate.
“I think it’s a bit gutless to be honest.”
A spokesman for the Australian Marriage Equality Victorian branch said they would be working with Melbourne Ports residents to highlight Danby’s decision.
“Michael Danby has betrayed the voters of Melbourne Ports by saying he supports marriage equality but then not voting for it when he had the chance,” he said.
“Worse still, Danby’s abstention sends a negative message to other MPs who will look at him and think ‘if he can get away with not voting for this in such a progressive electorate then so can I’.” Some residents have taken to social media to highlight Danby’s move
Melbourne Ports resident Tony Pitman started a Facebook page called ‘Melbourne Ports residents for marriage equality’ late last year, hoping to stir some change.
“I think most people in the electorate had the impression that Michael Danby was a supporter of LGBT rights, so when he chose to abstain on the marriage equality vote, there was a lot of disappointment and anger,” Pitman said.
“Through the Facebook page, we hope to funnel that frustration into something constructive; organising campaigns to convince Michael Danby to vote yes next time around.”
Danby’s office did not comment in time for publication.
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry submitted a response to the Senate Committee inquiry on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.
The following paragraph on page 6 of the submission (emphasis added) is of particular relevance:
Whilst there are good, evidence-based policy reasons to have legislation in place which prohibits conduct that offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates others because of other attributes, especially sexual orientation and gender identity, we believe that this should take the form of anti-vilification, not anti-discrimination, legislation and such legislation should include the same objective element as applies when the protected attribute is race. If, as we believe is the case, the Commonwealth lacks the constitutional power to enact anti-vilification legislation to protect attributes other than race, then it should be left to the States and Territories to do so, and the focus of government should be to achieve uniformity in such legislation across Australia.
5 Oct 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
‘Israel’s not Disneyland’
ONE of Israel’s top civil rights campaigners will arrive in Australia this week to speak to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne. Hagai El-Ad (pictured), the executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), said he is excited to meet with Australians and discuss their views on the Jewish State.
“This will be my first time in Australia and I am very much looking forward to meeting openminded people that are curious about the real Israel,” said El-Ad, who is being brought to Australia by New Israel Fund Australia.
“I want to open people to a real relationship with Israeli society because Israel is not always the Disneyland image that some people think.”
El-Ad, who completed an astrophysics degree at university, became an activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in his youth. “One thing just led to another and gradually my eyes were opened to the broader reality of some of the discrimination in Israel.”
He said the biggest challenges in Israeli society now are the occupation of the West Bank, which he claimed is the cause of countless human rights violations, as well as the fight for complete and full equality for Israeli citizens and the need for social justice reforms.
“Israel has become one of the less equal countries in the West in the context of economic disparity and a lot of work needs to be done to reduce the disparity in society.”
He reflected on the recent spate of public rallies in support of social and economic reform.
“People think in the beginning that it’s about the lack of rent control in Tel Aviv and the lack of affordable houses when they protest, but the conversation continues and it gets to planning policies in the Arab sector, the unrecognised Arab and Bedouin villages and other forms of inequality.
“It doesn’t matter what door they go through to talk about human rights and equality, it is good that people are discussing it.”
For information on El-ad’s speaking dates go to www.nif.org.au.