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
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.
posted by Peter Tatchell … on Mon, 28/10/2013 – 12:42
Feminist, lesbian and survivor of Nazi fascism
London, UK – 28 October 2013
Sharley McLean – Feminist, lesbian and survivor of Nazi fascism – died on 26 October 2013, aged 90.
“Born in Germany in 1923, both Sharley’s parents and many of her extended family died in the Holocaust. Her father was a socialist and her mother was Jewish. She fled to Britain as a teenage refugee from Nazi Germany in 1939, in one of the last transports of children allowed to leave Germany before the Nazis closed the borders. Her gay uncle, Kurt Bach, a left-wing activist, was arrested by the Gestapo in a gay bar in Berlin in 1937, and died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” recalls Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“Sharley was a wonderful woman and campaigner. I was honoured to know her and, in the 1980s, to help publicise her remarkable personal story. She participated in my early campaigns to document and publicise the experiences of LGBT Holocaust survivors – and later to commemorate them and the service personnel who died fighting Nazi fascism.
“Until the mid-1980s, it was forbidden to lay a pink triangle wreath at the Cenotaph in remembrance of the LGBT victims of fascism and of LGBT service personnel who fought to defeat Nazism. The wreaths we laid were swiftly removed. She helped me and others overturn the wreath ban.
“Prior to the late 1990s, the Royal British Legion refused to acknowledge that LGBT people has served and died in the armed forces. It would not allow a LGBT war veterans contingent to march in the official Remembrance Day parade. Sharley worked with us to challenge this exclusion.
“She joined and spoke at our V-E (Victory in Europe) Day commemorations at the Cenotaph in the 1980s and, a decade later, at the Queer Remembrance Day vigils at the Cenotaph, organised by the LGBT campaign group OutRage! The last one she spoke at was on 2 November 1997.
“Sharley was a long-time activist in the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and was a volunteer with the Terrence Higgins Trust in the 1980s. She was a passionate supporter of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association.
“She will be long remembered with admiration and appreciation,” said Mr Tatchell.
Is it with extreme disappointment and dismay that a representative of an Australian religious organisation has invoked the name of one of the most feared people of the Holocaust, in comparison with a minority group who are campaigning for equal rights under Australian law.
Tens of thousands of homosexual men were murdered under the hand of Joseph Goebbels, alongside many millions of Jews and people from a variety of national identities and religious beliefs. To be compared to this person, in the pursuit of equality and human rights is unconscionable. It beggars belief that an individual with a respected career in the Australian Defence Force is incapable of comprehending the gravity and insensitivity of the words he uttered on national television.
As a support group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from a Jewish background, the words of Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby hit our members and those in the community who share a similar identity with a double punch, and they continue to reverberate through the families and friends of these people and the communities they belong to.
There is no excuse for hate and intolerance of people on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Equal rights in marriage will only benefit the wider community and help show the commitment and love people in all relationships, irrespective of gender, express for each other. All Australians will benefit from equal marriage rights.
It is time for the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, and the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, to stop listening to those who peddle hatred and intolerance, and start listening to those people who want equality and love. It is only then that Australia will become a much better country and the political leaders can know that they have made a worthwhile contribution to the welfare of all Australians, now and into the future.
Convenor, Aleph Melbourne.
June 7 2012.