Aleph Melbourne Media Release
March 28 2013
“JCCV tackles homophobia, but must prove it is serious”
Aleph Melbourne congratulates the Jewish Community Council of Victoria for aligning themselves with the No To Homophobia1 campaign, as announced2 in this week’s Australian Jewish News.
The No To Homophobia campaign aims to challenge all forms of harassment and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people. With the JCCV signing up for these values it paves the way for greater acceptance and inclusion of GLBTIQ people in the Jewish community and will work to reduce the extreme marginalisation and intolerance that GLBTIQ people face at the Orthodox end of the religious spectrum.
As the only organisation representing the combined interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Melbourne’s Jewish community, Aleph Melbourne all too frequently sees the effects of intolerance of sexual orientation and gender identity, especially when it emanates from within the Jewish community.
A recent example of homophobia in the Victorian Jewish community is when Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen3 called for the defunding of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria program and published his beliefs that homosexual people should undergo sexual reorientation therapy to make them heterosexual.
Another example of homophobia in the Victorian Jewish community is the Rabbinical Council of Victoria writing a submission4 to the Australian Senate opposing changes to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to obtain civil marriages.
Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett asks of JCCV President Nina Bassat “Signing up to the No To Homophobia campaign is definitely a step in the right direction, but how is the JCCV going to counter homophobic attitudes from the intolerant sections of the Jewish community, especially when it comes to equal recognition of our relationships under Civil law and other forms of legalised intolerance such as that where Jewish organisations are allowed to discriminate against LGBTI people, especially when they are Jewish. It’s simply not enough for the JCCV just to ask their membership to also sign up. That is not affirmative action.”
Barnett states “The JCCV must show that joining No To Homophobia is a sincere attitude change and not just window-dressing. The lives of vulnerable same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth are at stake here and there is no room for hollow platitudes.”
Aleph Melbourne looks forward to the seeing the JCCV bring along its constituents in this new chapter and the accompanying benefits to the community that this entails, in particular building stronger and more inclusive families and reducing the rate of youth suicide, self-harm and mental health issues.
Aleph Melbourne also looks forward to the JCCV taking proactive initiatives to counter homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in all Jewish schools by recommending they all join the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria5. There is also ample scope for the JCCV to work with Jewish sporting organisations to reduce homophobic intolerance and promote positive role models in those spaces.
Contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 for further comment.