Aleph Melbourne commends the Victorian Government, under the leadership of Premier Daniel Andrews, for its ongoing commitment to protecting all Victorians from hate, and for standing steadfastly strong with Jewish and LGBTIQ+ Victorians.
Along with making the public display of Nazi symbols illegal, we welcome the government’s commitment to extending anti-vilification protections to cover sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status.
All too often homophobia is juxtaposed with antisemitism in wanton acts of hate, as evidenced by the attack on Cranbourne Golf Club last year and the attack on the Gardiner’s Creek Trail in July this year.
It was with sadness that Aleph Melbourne’s submission to the Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections highlighted a litany of anti-LGBTIQ+ vilification emanating from within the Jewish community. We hope that these reforms will see the end of such intolerance, and allow those in our community who have been forced to live in the shadows to feel sufficiently empowered to come forward and live a more authentic life.
We are also grateful to David Southwick MP for inviting Aleph Melbourne to lodge a submission to the Inquiry, which the committee found most compelling.
I am deeply grateful to David Southwick MP for personally extending an invitation to Aleph Melbourne to provide a submission to the Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections. I am also grateful to the committee of the inquiry for accepting our submission.
For many years I have witnessed vilifying comments originating within the Jewish community, directed at Jewish LGBTIQ+ people. These hateful comments, which appeared in Jewish print, broadcast, online and social media outlets, formed the basis of Aleph Melbourne’s submission to the inquiry.
The committee found our submission sufficiently compelling that they quoted from it in their report.
The Jewish community does not tolerate an iota of hate directed at it, and it should not tolerate an iota of hate emanating from it.
The committee recommended strengthening anti-vilification laws, including adding protections for LGBTIQ+ people and those with HIV/AIDS. Doing so will make Victoria a safer place for all people, whether they are Jewish, LGBTIQ+, or any other category.
In addition to commentary on race, religion and ethnicity, the Committee also heard evidence that disproportionately negative media commentary has serious consequences for various other groups, such as the LGBTIQ community. For example, in its submission, Aleph Melbourne stated:
Since 2001 there have been numerous hateful and vilifying attacks on LGBTIQ+ people in print and social media, originating in or closely connected to Melbourne’s Jewish community. Had such attacks been anti‑Semitic in nature it is likely there would have been justified outrage from the Jewish community and attempts made to seek legal remedy under anti‑vilification legislation. At present there is no equivalent protection available for attacks on LGBTIQ+ people.64
Received from the Legislative Assembly on 12 September 2019:
An inquiry into current anti-vilification laws, their possible expansion, and/or extension of protections beyond existing classes to the Legal and Social Issues Committee for consideration and report no later than 1 September 2020.
The Committee should consider:
1) The effectiveness of the operation of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (the Act) in delivering upon its purposes; 2) The success or otherwise of enforcement of the Act, and the appropriateness of sanctions in delivering upon the Act’s purposes; 3) Interaction between the Act and other state and Commonwealth legislation; 4) Comparisons in the operation of the Victorian Act with legislation in other jurisdictions; 5) The role of state legislation in addressing online vilification. 6) The effectiveness of current approaches to law enforcement in addressing online offending. 7) Any evidence of increasing vilification and hate conduct in Victoria; 8) Possible extension of protections or expansion of protection to classes of people not currently protected under the existing Act; 9) Any work underway to engage with social media and technology companies to protect Victorians from vilification.