Rabbi’s remarks dubbed delusional | Melbourne mX

This story appeared on page 2 in the Melbourne mX on February 16, 2012, following on from the previous day’s cover story.


Rabbi’s remarks
dubbed delusional
Nadia Salemme

Jewish community groups have
distanced themselves from a
rabbi who criticised antibullying
programs for gay teens.

Aleph, a social and support
group for Jewish gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender
people, has condemned the
remarks by Rabbi Dr Shimon
Cowen as deluded.

He had claimed support programs
about gender and sexual
diversity in schools ‘‘could in fact
cultivate and encourage homosexuality
amongst many children
who would ordinarily grow
into heterosexual lifestyles’’.

Aleph spokesman Michael
Barnett said of Cowen: ‘‘He
needs to understand that people
who impose their religious
beliefs on same-sex-attracted
people are doing more harm
than good, and that it actually
adds to their suffering, misery
and is completely unacceptable.

‘‘It’s not a very helpful perspective
when it comes to
understanding the issues behind
sexuality and the very sensitive
nature of young children.’’

Barnett said he regularly received
calls from ‘‘distressed’’
Jewish families who needed
support for young gay people.

‘‘These people are suffering
badly – it’s because of the attitudes
of people like this rabbi
who have repressed discussion
in the community, repressed
tolerance and inclusion, and
unconditional love,’’ he said.

The Executive Council of Australian
Jewry has also distanced
itself from Cowen’s comments.

In a statement, it described
Cowen as ‘‘highly respected in
our community, but that does
not mean that his views on any
subject are representative’’.

Gay Abandon – Jewish leader slams anti-bullying campaign | Melbourne mX

Front cover of the Melbourne mX, February 15, 2012.


Gay abandonJewish leader slams anti-bullying campaign
Nadia Salemme

Anti-bullying programs for gay teens
have been criticised by a Jewish leader
who says they are ‘‘unethical’’ and may
‘‘encourage homosexuality’’.

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen’s comments
have been slammed by gay and lesbian
lobby groups, which have labelled them
‘‘damaging’’ and ‘‘irresponsible’’.

Cowen, a Monash University academic
and the son of former governor general
the late Sir Zelman Cowen, has
hit out at Safe Schools Coalition Victoria’s
program supporting gender
and sexual diversity in schools.

He said it was ‘‘using bullying as a
pretext to teach all school children that
homosexual conduct is equally normative
with heterosexual conduct’’.

‘‘This program could in fact cultivate
and encourage homosexuality amongst
many children who would ordinarily
grow into heterosexual lifestyles.

‘‘The bullying of homosexually inclined
children should be stopped
and it should be stopped by a process
which eliminates all kinds of bullying.

‘‘What the program wants to do is
tackle bullying by celebrating homosexuality
as one form of legitimate human
expression. To eliminate bullying
does not require that.

‘‘Let’s say a child was being bullied
because the child was fat, you don’t
have to celebrate obesity.’’

Cowen said he had ‘‘nothing against
people with homosexual inclinations’’
and wanted ‘‘a full parliamentary debate’’
into programs in schools.

But Safe Schools Coalition Victoria
co-ordinator Roz Ward said the comments
were ‘‘offensive’’.

‘‘The program has been widely well
received and is having an impact in
schools to reduce bullying and I just
think these kinds of comments are
unfounded,’’ Ward said.

‘‘It sounds like something you might
have heard in the 1950s.’’

Micah Scott, general manager of youth
gay and lesbian support centre Minus
18, said the view was ‘‘damaging’’.

‘‘Same-sex attracted young people
are . . . already a vulnerable group due
to homophobia,’’ Scott, 23, said.

It comes as Kath & Kim actor Magda
Szubanski, who publicly came out yesterday,
admitted she was suicidal as a

‘‘I know how those kids feel, believe
me, I know how those kids feel,’’
Szubanski told 3AW today.