The experience of LGBTQ+ members of the Sydney Jewish community has ranged from celebration to rejection. After the success of the marriage-equality vote in 2017, the movement for greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ people is growing. Yet a 2020 study showed that four out of five LGBTQ+ people felt worse than they did after the same-sex marriage vote. What further changes are needed?
This month’s NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum will feature a panel discussion moderated by Josh Kirsh, chair of the Board of Deputies LGBTQ+ Working Party.
The panellists will be: Dr Kerryn Phelps and Jackie Stricker-Phelps, both of whom campaigned for marriage equality, Jonathan David, president of the Jewish LGBTQ+ support group Dayenu, Danielle Meltzer, a transgender woman who grew up in Sydney, and Galit Taub, a graduate of Moriah College who aims to make religious Jewish spaces more inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals. The plenum will be held both in person and online on Tuesday 16 March at 7:30pm.
Passed unanimously at the ECAJ Annual Conference in Melbourne on Sunday November 26 2017.
Add a new Policy Item 54 as follows:
Same Sex civil marriage
54.1NOTES the high response rate to the survey on same sex marriage conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2017, participation in which was entirely voluntary;
54.2NOTES FURTHER that there was a strong majority in favour of same sex marriage being recognised in Australia’s civil law;
54.3RECOGNISES that the survey did not relate in any way to religious marriages;
54.4CALLS ON the Federal government to:
enact an amendment to the civil law definition of marriage in the Marriage Act as soon as is practicable in order to give effect to the clear result of the survey;
ensure that members of the clergy will continue to have the right to refuse to perform or participate in any marriage ceremony at their discretion, as is provided for at present under section 47 of the Marriage Act;
ensure that religious institutions and religious schools will continue to have the same rights they currently enjoy under the law to practice, teach and preach their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about the institution of marriage being between a man and a woman; and
ensure that parents and legal guardians will continue to have the same freedoms they currently enjoy to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
54.5REJECTS any proposal that would permit businesses to refuse to provide goods, services and facilities on the basis that these are to be used in connection with a same-sex marriage ceremony; and
54.6AFFIRMS that in matters of ordinary trade and commerce, as distinct from matters of religious practice and belief, all people are entitled to be protected from adverse discriminatory treatment on the basis of their race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.
Aleph Melbourne welcomes the result of the “Same-Sex Marriage” Postal Survey and looks forward to seeing marriage equality enacted under law in Australia without additional restrictions or degradation of dignity to LGBTIQ people.
We acknowledge that the mechanism the government used to gauge the sentiment of the population was unnecessary and hurtful to LGBTIQ people and hoped that the government would have simply voted on the legislation up-front, as they are elected to do.
We commend the Jewish Community Council of Victoria for their positive contribution to the welfare of LGBTIQ people and look forward to their further support of vulnerable members of the community over coming days and weeks. We also commend the support from the growing number of congregations and community organisations that have been instrumental in advocating for equality, both the stalwarts and the newly supportive.
It is our hope that before long we will be seeing members of the Jewish community in gender-diverse and same-sex relationships celebrating their marriages, with the affirmation of their families, friends and community. We know that such inclusion and celebration will bring families together, reduce the levels of mental health problems in young people and even save lives.
Lastly, we are deeply grateful to those in the community, and also to those beyond, who voted Yes. Whilst the temptation to stick to old traditions may be enticing, the prospect of making new traditions will be incredibly rewarding, beyond expectations. Thank you.
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is delighted that the same sex marriage plebiscite is now completed and that the people of Australia have shown that they are clearly in support of equality. We hope that Parliament moves quickly to pass legislation that reflects the outcome of the plebiscite and the spirit of the message inherent within in it – support for equal rights, empathy and respect. We expect that religious freedoms will be protected, and equally that current protections against discrimination and intolerance are not watered down.
President of the JCCV, Jennifer Huppert stated, “We are concerned that the LGBTIQ members of our community and their families may face mental health concerns over the coming weeks, as the proposed same sex marriage Bills are debated. We again call for all debate to be respectful, and that anyone with or seeing others facing mental health challenges seek expert advice or support, such as through the LGBTI Switchboard, Beyond Blue, Headspace or Jewish Care Victoria. Service options and contact details can be found in the JCCV LGBTI Service Directory.”
Executive Director | Jewish Community Council of Victoria
It causes me great discomfort when a fellow Jew expresses anti-gay rhetoric. Most of us have learned a thing or two from 6,000 years of oppression. Mr. Leibler has not. Leibler begins by telling us just how wonderful he is. After explaining that he is an octogenarian:
I am no prude and when, 50 years ago, it was fashionable to demonize homosexuals I never joined the pack. I always maintained that consensual sexual relations were a private matter, I never discriminated against gays or lesbians, and I unhesitatingly employed quite a few. And despite the strict halachic prohibitions, I maintain that if gay people wish to be observant, they should not be ostracized from communal religious participation.
This is what follows next:
At the same time, I oppose gays flaunting their sexuality (for example by participating in pride parades) or promoting their lifestyle as progressive while implicitly denigrating the traditional concept of a nuclear family. They should be free to live their lives as they deem fit and enjoy all civil rights extended to heterosexual couples. But I am not ready to concede that gay couples should be glorified, as they sometimes are on TV, for supposedly partaking in a superior alternative lifestyle. I feel that this encourages young people to experiment unnecessarily with their own sexuality.
I scarcely know where to begin but I will start with the absolute certainty that a sexual orientation is not a lifestyle. Suggesting otherwise is an appeal to stereotype. It is an expression of bigotry. I am a retired CEO. My late partner was an executive with American Media. Our “lifestyle” had nothing to do with our sexual orientation. Rather, it reflected our business interests and most of our friends were straight (or at least they claimed to be).
I have no idea whatsoever what Mr. Leibler thinks is denigrating the nuclear family at the hands of dastardly gay people. He is not specific. However, what is obviously the most offensive and intellectually dishonest part of this is the notion that sexual orientation can be influenced by others or through experimentation.
It would help if Mr. Leibler knew the scientific fact that sexual orientation is a continuum with homosexual and heterosexual at the extreme ends. Nothing is going to change one’s positioning along the scale with the exception of a small amount of natural fluidity. People do not “experiment” with their sexual orientation and even if they did, they would still end up in the same place. Those around the middle might cross the 50-yard-line but not to experiment. They are satisfying a temporal attraction. Ultimately that is why all of those pray-away-the-gay enterprises have been such dismal failures. No one ever really changes.
Furthermore, Mr. Leibler does not define what he means by “glorified.” I don’t know what television he watches but in this country we see (all too few) gay couples. At best they are truthfully portrayed as the intellectual and moral equals of heterosexual couples. Again, being gay is not an alternative lifestyle. Then Mr. Leibler goes on a tear about same-sex marriage:
This brings me to the same-sex marriage issue, which has created such a global upheaval. The continuity of mankind depends on male-female intercourse. Marriage implies a heterosexual union and to religious people it is a sacred institution.
While I fully support the legal system providing gay couples with rights identical to those of a heterosexual union, surely appropriate commitment ceremonies can be devised that do not imply bracketing such unions in the same category as traditional marriages.
Jewish non-Orthodox bodies like the Conservative and Reform movements should at most be neutral on this issue, but unfortunately, they are at the forefront of calling for gay unions to be defined as traditional marriages.
Let’s get the intercourse out of the way immediately. I am not sure but perhaps Mr. Leibler believes that when gays marry, that deprives society of an otherwise heterosexual spouse (as well as his or her sexual activities to crank out children). If that is the case then Leibler is beyond the point of redemption. Moreover, marriage might be sacred to religious people which is why those same people marry in their synagogue. To others it is a civil construct.
I am not familiar with Israeli law but in this country marriage is a legal construct that may, or may not be, a religious ritual. In this country we have also experimented with the concept of separate but equal which is what Leibler is essentially advocating. Great legal minds came to the conclusion that separate but equal is inherently unequal. There is no practical reason for gay couples to have a different outcome to being wed. Calling it marriage is not only the correct term but it has no effect whatsoever on so-called traditional marriage. If Mr. Leibler truly supports equal rights for gay couples as he claims then he should vigorously support marriage equality.
Perhaps the answer is right in front of Mr. Leibler. He has the the ability to discuss these matters with conservative and reform rabbis who can explain their reasons for supporting marriage equality.
The gay marriage debate has descended into bullying and vilifying anyone who dares to defend traditional beliefs. But objecting to gay marriage is neither discriminatory nor homophobic. The slandering of all who oppose gay marriage has descended into a poisonous hate fest.
Really? It seems to me that we must entertain bullshit about lifestyles and the pernicious ability of gay people to turn straight youth gay. Then, on top of that, another layer of manure is spread in the form of the preposterous notion that same-sex marriage has some mystical effect on so-called traditional marriage — all engineered to make gay people unequal.
Does Mr. Leibler have so much as a clue about the bigotry inherent in demeaning gay people for “flaunting their life style?” We are deeply offended and rightfully so. If Leibler wants less hate then he can ratchet down his homophobia and the reaction will recede accordingly. If he wants less poison in the environment then he should turn off his spigot. And then he can cease feigning victimization as a tactic to gain traction.
The blatant bigotry continues:
The just campaign to ensure equal social and civic rights for gays has succeeded beyond all expectations. But it was never intended to promote a gay lifestyle at the expense of heterosexuality and the nuclear family. I do not endorse the belief that sexuality is fluid. Nor would I condone the silencing of traditional and religious values, which consider marriage between man and wife to be uniquely sacred.
“… at the expense of heterosexuality and the nuclear family” and he ponders why that is considered bigoted hate speech. And let’s not imply that marriage equality has an effect on the religious practices of anyone. That is just dishonest nonsense.
You can continue to read Leibler’s diatribe at the link above. I have had more than I care to have.
I’m going to bring in Karina here, because obviously you’re concerned about these areas precisely.
The short answer to your question is that if same-sex marriage is legalised, no, Christian schools will not be immune from the consequences that flow from that. And we’ve seen that just last week, when Theresa May in the UK said that one of her greatest achievements in her parliamentary career was legalising same-sex marriage. And the next step now is to ensure that there is LGBTI sex education in all schools – not just government schools, all schools.
I actually… You said fact-check. I did fact-check a couple of the claims that you’ve made. One of them was about the guy who’s the prominent guy from Canada for the No campaign. And he said it’s been sort of put forward that because he wouldn’t accept teachings about gender and sex education, he was suing the school.
He had a six-year-long battle going on and his claims, his list of claims, included things like he didn’t want his children to be exposed to what he called false teachings, which meant the mere idea that there were other sets of values that existed, anything to do with the environment, to do with astrology, which is in newspapers everywhere, and wizards, meaning the kids couldn’t discuss… He wanted to be informed. It was not because of a difference of views, it was…it was unworkable.
And one more thing – the other one I want… You mentioned the Jewish school in London. I fact-checked that because I actually went to the site of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and they said that is inaccurate. If you want to tell the Jews how to run Jewish schools – because we’re talking about freedom of religion – it seems to me…
Just to confirm, this is a story about a Jewish school in the UK and the suggestion or allegation that it was going to be forced to shut down because they were refusing to teach gender diversity?
And I’m not saying that’s inaccurate. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry is saying that that’s inaccurate.
We’ll quickly throw that to Karina.
The council are the only ones who say that that’s inaccurate. Everyone else says that it is accurate…
They’re the peak body. They’re the peak body.
The reports are on the internet. If you don’t believe that it’s true…
..have a look at the very reports that are provided by the inspectorate itself.
So, you don’t accept the word of the peak body of Australian Jewry?
It’s inaccurate to say that they didn’t face consequences as a result. The reality is that the inspector came, inspected the school and they failed inspections after same-sex marriage was legalised.
I’m going to draw a line. People can fact-check…
Please fact-check it. I would ask people to fact-check it.
I’d expect the fact-checkers will fact-check it.
I did fact-check. The Jews fact-checked it. But they don’t know, apparently.
They’re the only body that say that.
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.
I refer to Bill Leak’s cartoon (“Waffen SSM”, 21/9). It can be readily accepted that hyperbole is a stock in trade of any cartoonist, and Leak is entitled to give satirical expression to his opinion that certain advocates of same-sex marriage are intolerant to any contrary point of view. Yet to compare them to Nazi SS divisions does little credit to the point he was presumably trying to make.
To liken any advocate of SSM to the perpetrators of mass murder and cruelty in the Nazi era is an inversion of history. In Nazi Germany, about 100,000 suspected homosexuals were arrested and up to 15,000 of them were interned in concentration camps where many were killed.
As a political cartoonist, it is Leak’s job to be provocative and controversial, but this was not his best work.
Peter Wertheim, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Sydney, NSW