Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities respond to COVID-19

A collection of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities.

Responses to COVID-19 from the Australian LGBTIQ+ and Jewish communities

Thorne Harbour Health (Victoria)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update and advice for people living with HIV [Feb 28 2020]
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Mar 12 2020]
Update on COVID-19 for PLHIV [Mar 16 2020]
Sex, Intimacy and Coronavirus [Mar 17 2020]
COVID-19
COVID-19: Services Update

ACON (New South Wales)
COVID-19 and Our Communities
ACON Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement [Mar 15 2020]
Trans and Gender Diverse People and COVID-19 [Mar 18 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Casual Sex and Social Distancing [Mar 20 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON services, programs and events [Mar 23 2020]
Sex in the Era of COVID-19 [Mar 24 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON Regional Services [Mar 26 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Changes to ACON Head Office Opening Hours [Apr 3 2020]
Dealing with stress and anxiety during COVID-19 [Apr 3 2020]
ACON Publishes Online COVID-19 Clearinghouse for LGBTQ Communities in NSW [Apr 8 2020]
WATCH: LGBTQ Online Forum – COVID-19 & Our Communities [Apr 8 2020]
Support For Harmful Drug and Alcohol Use Available During Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Apr 9 2020]
ACON and Positive Life NSW statement on media report on spitting, Coronavirus and people living with HIV [Apr 22 2020]
ACON COVID-19 Update: Visiting other people at home, physical distancing & casual sex [Apr 28 2020]
Forum To Explore Impact of COVID-19 on Trans and Gender Diverse Communities [May 5 2020]
Virtual Forum to Explore Impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTQ People in Regional NSW [May 7 2020]
COVID-19 Update: Easing of Restrictions, Physical Distancing and Casual Sex [Jun 12 2020]
COVID-19 Update: Casual Sex and Sex On Premises Venues [Jul 10 2020]

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations / National LGBTI Health Alliance
LGBTI people, health and COVID-19 [Mar 17 2020]
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Hub

Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation [Mar 20 2020]

Community Security Group (Victoria)
Information on COVID-19 for communal leaders

Equality Australia
COVID-19 and Australian LGBTIQ+ Communities [Apr 16 2020]

Executive Council of Australian Jewry
ECAJ Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic [Mar 12 2020]
Community response to Coronavirus [Mar 17 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #1 [Mar 20 2020]
COVID-19: ABC’s Dr Norman Swan with a special message for the Australian Jewish community [Mar 23 2020]
What coronavirus means for our school-kids, seders, and saftas [Mar 24 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #2 [Mar 27 2020]
Coping with isolation, fear and anxiety in a time of Coronavirus [Mar 29 2020]
NSW Jewish community opens Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to support community during coronavirus pandemic [Mar 31 2020]
Australian Jewish community management of COVID-19 pandemic – National Bulletin #3 [Apr 3 2020]

Hares & Hyenas Bookshop (Victoria)
UPDATE FOR CUSTOMERS & SUPPORTERS [Mar 19 2020]

Intersex Human Rights Australia
Intersex people and COVID-19 [Apr 12 2020]

Jewish Care (NSW)
JCA Announces COVID‐19 Jewish Emergency Relief Fund [Apr 2 2020]

Jewish Care Victoria
COVID-19 Helpline
Jewish Care Victoria Response to Stage 3 Restrictions [Jul 8 2020]

Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Information for Victorian Jewish Communal Leaders on Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Mar 17 2020]
Information for Victorian Jewish Communal Leaders on Coronavirus (COVID-19) – UPDATE 2 [Mar 18 2020]

Leo Baeck Centre (Victoria)
LBC Weekly Update 11 March 2020

Living Positive Victoria
Coronavirus update and advice for HIV positive Australians [Feb 28 2020]
COVID-19 Update for People Living with HIV [Mar 17 2020]
COVID-19 is changing the way we interact with you [Mar 25 2020]
Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 [Apr 15 2020]
Casual sex in the time of COVID-19 [Apr 21 2020]

Minus18 (Victoria)
COVID-19 UPDATE FROM MINUS18 [Mar 20 2020]

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies
NSW Jewish Community Response to COVID-19 [Mar 18 2020]
COVID-19 pandemic: Message from Board of Deputies President Lesli Berger [Mar 26 2020]

Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand
Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand Statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 [c Mar 12 2020]

Temple Beth Israel (Victoria)
COVID-19 update [Mar 18 2020]

Union for Progressive Judaism
Union for Progressive Judaism Statement on Coronavirus [c Mar 12 2020]


This page will be updated as further information comes to hand.
We invite readers to contact us with relevant community information.

The hypocrisy within the Jewish community of calling for a “respectful” debate (or silence) on Marriage Equality

On Monday September 4 2017 the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) issued a statement advising citizens to vote No in the upcoming federal government postal survey on marriage equality.  A backlash to this statement ensued, with no less than Rabbi Daniel Rabin, President of the council that issued the statement, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry distancing themselves from the aforementioned statement.

On Wednesday the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) issued a statement calling for “a respectful debate in the lead up to the same sex marriage survey”.

Also on Wednesday Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Senior Rabbi of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and President of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand, issued a statement explaining his rationale for participating in a position of silence on the postal survey.

On Thursday Rabbi Daniel Mirvis, Senior Rabbi of the Mizrachi Centre, issued a statement saying of the upcoming postal survey: “I plan on remaining silent on the matter”.

On Friday Rabbi James Kennard, Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College issued a statement urging “all who choose not to remain silent to ensure that all comments, on all sides, are made with respect, sensitivity and understanding”.

By calling for a “respectful debate” the underlying message being sent is that debate must be respectful over whether the Marriage Act should continue to exclude same-sex and other non-heterosexual couples.  Ultimately this amounts to insisting on a polite conversation on the merit of legalised discrimination.

Engaging in silence on a matter of discrimination amounts to tacit endorsement of the status quo.

But what if the topic of conversation were not Marriage Equality, but instead the banning of non-medical circumcision, the banning of religious slaughter of animals, government support for BDS, or the removal of religious and racial protections?

Would it still be acceptable to have a debate, or maintain silence, on any of these topics, respecting the underlying premise of each issue?

Would Jewish community leaders stand around and silently tolerate the wider community respectfully debating the merits of these topics, with a laissez-faire approach to the conversations?

Probably not.

Yet it’s acceptable for some senior Jewish Community leaders to insist on tolerating a “respectful debate” or maintaining a silence over whether the government can continue to enshrine discrimination in the law against a marginalised and highly vulnerable minority group for no good reason.

And this isn’t double standards?  Where is the respect in that?

Rabbi Yaakov Glasman responds to the Rabbinical Council of Victoria’s statement against marriage equality

Message to my St Kilda Shule community (and others):

Two days ago the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) issued a statement encouraging people to vote “no” in the upcoming postal survey on same-sex marriage. The statement caused significant distress and hurt in the community. Its President has since issued a sincere public apology for which I commend him and its Vice President has resigned in protest. Given my position as a past President of the organisation several members of the St Kilda Shule congregation and others in the community have inquired as to my involvement in the said statement.

I had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the drafting or approval of this statement. I believe the statement was ill-conceived and served no purpose in advancing the cause of Orthodox Judaism. Instead, it alienated many members of our community and caused damage which was entirely preventable. Members of my Shule and others have a right to know where I, as their rabbi, stand on this matter and I trust the above will allay their concerns. I note that at the time of writing this we are only hours away from the High Court’s ruling on the legaility of otherwise of the postal vote, but irrespective of its decision I believe the above information remains relevant.

Having regard to the above I have also been asked about the position of the federal Rabbinic body (RCANZ) over which I currently preside. Our position on traditional marriage and the exemptions we expect for religious institutions should the Marriage Act be amended was submitted to the Government in January as part of the Senate’s Exposure Draft into the Marriage Amendment Bill. It followed full consultation of all our member rabbis across Australasia and is publicly available online.

When the Government announced in August its plans for a postal vote my Executive Committee made a conscious decision that it would be unwise to issue any statement, let alone one telling the community how to vote. Our reason for remaining silent was simple – we viewed weighing into the debate in the current climate as counter-productive and I believe the events over the past two days have justified our decision.

Notwithstanding this, I have been criticized by some in the community for my silence. They have perceived this as a sign of weakness and a cowering to political correctness. I wish to state in the clearest possible terms that I catergorically reject this criticism. In the wise words of King Solomon “there is a time to speak and a time to be silent” and now is a time for the latter.

The fact is that we as rabbis choose silence over statements on a regular basis – and for good reason. There is any number of non-halachic behaviors occuring on a daily basis within the Jewish community. We witness rampant desecration of Shabbat, widespread consumption of non-kosher, soaring intermarriage rates and we can only wonder how many heterosexual couples use the Mikvah regularly before cohabitation (and as some have pointed out the current debate on same-sex marriage relates to civil law, not Halacha). Yet we don’t see Rabbinic statements, proclamations or sermons telling people how to live their lives – and the reason has nil to do with weakness or political correctness. It’s because we know instinctively that doing so will alienate the very people we’re trying to bring closer to Orthodoxy. Instead, we as rabbis focus on the positive and so it should be. I do not regret my approach to date and quite frankly I hope others will follow suit.

Wearing my St Kilda Shule hat I can only reiterate that which I’ve stated multiple times from the pulpit, in the newspapers, on the radio, on social media and in conversation, that our Shule has an open door policy for all Jews irrespective of their sexuality. I will never judge anyone for the way they live their lives and I hope others won’t judge me for the way I live mine.

https://www.facebook.com/yaakovsara.glasman/posts/1388868384550567

“Harry Elkus” and the Caulfield Synagogue anti-homosexuality protest

A document protesting a gay rabbi was being shared around the Melbourne Jewish community.
Intolerance of gay people is unacceptable.

Gay orthodox rabbi Steven Greenberg was billed as guest speaker at the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on Friday June 16 2017:

Rabbi Steven Greenberg guest speaker at CHC

It came to our attention last week that a document “HERESY-CHC” was being distributed around the Melbourne Jewish community calling for concerned members of the Jewish community to protest this event:

Heresy pamphlet

The document contains the name “Harry Elkus” in the Author field of the document Properties:

Heresy document properties

It also came to our attention that some of the information in the flyer was apparently misleading:

 

FYI
(i just received this from a protest organiser)
==========================
Please send this out ASAP
To the Melbourne Jewish community,
Yesterday an email was disseminated to the community calling for a public protest outside Caulfield Shule during its upcoming event this Friday night.
Following consultation with leading communal Rabbonim we hereby inform the community that the planned protest has been cancelled. We discourage anyone from participating in any public protests as it will only serve to escalate the controversy surrounding the issue.
We also wish to clarify one aspect of the email distributed yesterday. Some in the community understood from the email that the (now cancelled) protest had the widespread support of the Rabbinate including, but not limited to, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) and the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand (RCANZ). We wish to clarify that at no point were the RCV or the RCANZ consulted about the said protest. We apologise sincerely to both Rabbinic bodies for any implication otherwise.
We maintain our view that the event at Caulfield Shule should not be under the auspices of Orthodoxy but we recognize that public protests are counter-productive.
May Hashem help us in seeing Torah true Judaism upheld in our community.

 

It is deeply disappointing and disturbing that some members of the Jewish community wish to use their religion to demonise and further marginalise homosexual people.  There is no room for discrimination or intolerance in the Jewish community.