Aleph Melbourne is pleased to receive the following statement from David Southwick MP, Member for Caulfield and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.
STATEMENT ON DISTURBING EVENTS ON THE STEPS OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE – 18 MARCH 2023
The past fortnight has been a difficult time for Victoria’s LGBTQIA+ and Jewish communities.
The shocking events we’ve seen outside Parliament House, where neo-Nazis displayed open hate and vilification towards our Transgender community, do not reflect who we are as a State.
I want to reiterate my support and alliance with the entire LGBTQIA+ community.
Throughout my parliamentary career, I have fostered deep connections with LQBTQIA+ community and have a genuine appreciation for all they do to make our state a better place. Together, we have campaigned to legalise same-sex marriage, ban gay conversion therapy, and stood shoulder to shoulder at pride events.
Victoria is a place where everyone should be free to be their authentic self, regardless religion, race, gender, sexual preference and identity.
My party will work with the government to ensure Victoria Police have the powers, resources and training to stamp out these shocking acts of hate.
As Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Caulfield, I will continue to call out discrimination wherever I see it and work to make Victoria a more tolerant and inclusive place.
The JCCV has been advocating for the safety of all Victorians, including our Jewish community. We know that on this occasion, the target of hateful conduct was transgender people. That is why the JCCV is campaigning for a broader discussion about vilification of all minorities.
JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF VICTORIA MEDIA STATEMENT
“The actions of Nazi thugs over the weekend has shocked the entire Victorian community, not just Jews. We are pleased to see the Victorian Government move to ban the Nazi salute, most likely with bipartisan support. It is an odious symbol of hate.
It should not be lost in the debate that, on this occasion, the proximate target of this hateful conduct was transgender people.
“The JCCV thinks that there needs to be a broader discussion about vilification of all minorities, and criminalisation of such behaviour. We look forward to participating in that discussion with Government in the near future.”
19 March 2023 – A diverse group of trans, LGBTIQ+, multicultural, women’s and other civil society organisations have joined together to condemn the hate speech and transphobic displays that took place outside Victorian parliament.
The coalition said it highlighted the urgent need for Victoria and other jurisdictions to expand their anti-vilification laws to prohibit all forms of hate speech, including vilification based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
There are currently no federal laws and no laws in Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia protecting LGBTIQ+ people from vilification. Only vilification based on race (and in Victoria, also based on religion) is prohibited in these places.
Son Vivienne and Jeremy Wiggins, CEO’s of Transgender Victoria and Transcend said: “Surely, we can agree that whatever our personal or political beliefs, we share a human desire for mutual respect?
“Anti-vilification laws are one way to protect humanity against violence, hate and bigoted ideologies that hurt all people, but especially those at the intersections of stigmatised gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, faith, class and disability.
“Transgender Victoria and Transcend believe in standing for common decency and compassion and we call upon state and federal governments to strengthen legal protections against hate.”
Jackie Turner, Founderof the Trans Justice Project said: ”Trans people deserve to thrive. Yet right now we are facing unprecedented attacks on our rights, lives and health care from anti-trans hate groups. I encourage everyone to stand in solidarity with the trans and gender diverse community in calling out these attacks.”
Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia said: “The actions of the anti-trans protesters in Victoria yesterday speak for themselves and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Clearly there is no place for Nazi salutes and signs calling for the destruction of trans people in Australian public debate.
“The neo-Nazi ideology and that of the anti-trans protesters have much in common – they target vulnerable minorities to incite hatred and fear. These ugly displays of transphobia are typical of the sort of vilification trans people have to deal with every day and now the broader Australian public can see for themselves the sort of people doing it.”
Mohammad Al-Khafaji, CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) said: “With International Day on the Elimination of Racism on Tuesday, we can’t stand by and let the symbols of racist ideology be used to demean the dignity of any person in our wonderfully multicultural society, whatever their race, religion, gender identity or sexuality.”
Daniel Aghion KC,President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) said: “Vilification, in any form, has no place in Victoria.”
Jana Favero, Director of Systemic Change, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said: “It was shocking to see footage of yesterday’s anti trans neo nazi displays. We condemn this display of racism, hatred, and fear mongering. Such discrimination and division does not reflect us as a community and must be rejected and condemned.”
Michael Barnett, Aleph Melbourne said: “White supremacy of this nature lead to the persecution and murder of millions of Jews, LGBTIQ+ people and other minorities in World War 2. There is no room for this ugly behaviour in Melbourne, or anywhere else. Transgender, gender diverse and all LGBTIQ+ people have a right to live in peace and safety, without fear of bigotry, transphobia or intolerance.
Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda said: “The fight for women’s rights is one for respect and dignity. We condemn the actions of all who target and marginalise people in our community to incite hatred and fear. All women must join together to ensure our movement is not co-opted to demonise the trans women among us. A better future for women is one where we all have safety, security and agency over our lives and bodies.”
In 2021, a cross-party Victorian Parliamentary committee recommended expanding Victoria’s racial and religious vilification laws to protect everyone from hate, including transgender people. These recommendations are yet to be implemented.
In the lead up to the federal election in 2022, the Commonwealth government committed to enacting religious anti-vilification laws but has not committed to prohibiting vilification based on other attributes.
Ms Brown said reforms to protect LGBTIQ+ people from the harms of hate speech were long overdue.
“In 2023, it cannot be that Nazi salutes vilifying trans people are legal in Victoria, or anywhere in Australia. Everyone deserves to live without people condemning their simple right to exist, or live with dignity,” concluded Ms Brown.
Media contact: Anna Brown 0422 235 522, Tara Ravens 0408 898 154
Aleph Melbourne received the following clarifying statement from Glen Eira Councillor Dr David Zyngier on April 4, 2022, issued in response to the tweet from @StrewthQueen below:
As a member of the Greens I fully support and endorse the non-negotiable rights of all people to their fundamental human rights. I fully support the Greens policy on trans rights. I acknowledge as a cis male there is much that I do not fully understand and am open to being educated about issues that impact and effect our LGBTQI+ community. I look forward to future productive conversations with members of the LGBTQI+ community and especially those members of the Greens who identify as trans. If there are transphobic or trans exclusionary members of the Greens, they do not represent Green values or mine.
In essence this legislative reform will allow transgender and gender diverse Victorians to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without having to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
This simple reform will make a huge difference to the lives of those people who are currently unable to easily align their birth certificate with their affirmed gender.
The Jewish community, along with other communities across the state, will benefit from this reform, as its trans and gender diverse people can start living fuller, more meaningful lives, participating in activities that other people take for granted.
Aleph Melbourne commends these reforms, but also notes they are substandard to the recent Tasmanian reforms that made gender optional on birth certificates.
Aleph Melbourne Contact: Michael Barnett / firstname.lastname@example.org / 0417-595-541
About Aleph Melbourne: Aleph Melbourne is a social, support and advocacy group for same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people (and allies) who have a Jewish heritage, living in Melbourne, Australia.
Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (12:18:48): I rise to make some comments on the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2019 and note from the outset that there are many sensitivities, debate and some wideranging views in this legislation that is before the house. I also want to say that as somebody that has been a very proud supporter of the LGBTIQ community, when it comes to equality—whether it be of sex, race or religion—I have always sought to champion these causes. There have certainly been some very strong contributions made today, and very much the member for Oakleigh talked about ideally not being having labels and treating everybody as individuals, as one and all the same. I would certainly hope we get to a day when we can do that and we do not have to pass laws because of inequalities of action. But there are aspects of this bill that certainly the opposition has issues with, and there have already been contributions from some of my colleagues that have raised some of these issues. Firstly, can I say the issue of gender identification and the support for the rights of individuals to live their lives the way they wish to live according to their gender identity is certainly something that I support, but this is more than just gender identification; it does go to the crux of some of the laws that exist. As many have stated, there is a clear difference between how people identify their gender and how legal records are kept in the case of birth certificates. Birth certificates exist to record a person’s record of birth, and birth certificates are intended to record biological sex rather than gender identity. They are used for a whole range of record keeping through a number of different government agencies for a whole range of planning and so on in terms of the historical record of somebody’s sex at birth. The actual legislation is to amend the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 to remove the requirements for somebody that has undergone sex affirmation surgery while allowing for applications to alter birth certificates also on behalf of children. Basically what this does is allow for self-identification of gender. Essentially we debated this bill back in 2016, and there has also been some commonwealth equality legislation that has been added to since then. Clause 8 looks at a person changing their sex without having to undergo affirmation surgery and how this works, with an application done in good faith. Also the bill permits application for a child’s record of sex to be altered in their birth registration. As with adults, children are not required to undergo treatment as part of this process. Also, where there is a dispute the court will be satisfied that the change is in the child’s best interests. As part of the briefing I understand the department advised that the test used to change the sex descriptor closely follows the process used for changing your name for administrative convenience, notwithstanding the fact that changing your name or your sex are two very different propositions, particularly when you are changing legal documents. Clause 13—and this is where I want to spend a bit of time in terms of my contribution—deals with changes when it comes to both adults and juveniles in detention and under supervision, such as prisoners and parolees who make an application to alter their recorded sex. As the Shadow Minister for Police, Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Shadow Minister for Corrections, this is something that I think is very important for us to spend some time with. The only additional condition is the prior approval of the supervising authority—for example, the Adult Parole Board of Victoria—who is to consider the application’s reasonableness, including the security, safety and wellbeing of applicants and others. This is a very sensitive area. I will also say at the outset that the trans community is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to community safety, both in the community and corrections facilities. We have seen a number of incidents in corrections facilities where a trans member has been attacked. Certainly there are a number of concerns for authorities when it comes to this. Also, in terms of the changes, concerns around looking at tracking sex offenders, prisoners and those on parole have been raised. On the provisions for serious sex offenders, prisoners and parolees, the information has been vague and lacks a lot of detail when it comes to this bill. There have certainly been a number of cases that have been raised. I know the Canadian case of trans woman Jessica Yaniv, who took 16 beauticians to the Human Rights Tribunal for refusing to wax her scrotum in a Brazilian wax. I know that has been raised. But there have been some even more specific issues in terms of within the prisons themselves. I note that prisons must balance the welfare of transgender offenders with offenders, particularly women, whose safety could be threatened by prisoners who were born male. An example that I want to cite is Karen White in the UK. Karen White was a convicted paedophile who now identifies as a woman. She assaulted two prisoners while in a women’s jail in 2017. This is absolutely a case where the safety of those in the prison was certainly not dealt with well. As Richard Garside from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies says, ‘We have a clash of rights’, and it is balancing those rights which is really, really important. But community safety should always be paramount in terms of whatever we look at. The member for Ripon raised a number of issues around women’s groups and women’s rights. I also note the comments I have received from the Victorian Women’s Guild, particularly around equal opportunity and protecting single-sex spaces—very, very important issues. Also, as the member for Ripon said, there are not many jurisdictions that have gone down this path, and it is great to be a leader in some respects in terms of what you do, but when you are changing such important legislation as this, it is important to have very broad consultation. I note that a number of those women’s groups were not properly consulted on this. We just need to make sure we get things right. We talk a lot about equal opportunity in this place and we talk a lot about trying to balance things when it comes women, and I think it is important that we have that proper consultation. Back to justice, interestingly enough what the UK prison system has done since the Karen White issue is set up a transgender wing, looking to resolve the clash of women’s rights. The prison service reckons there are about 139 transgender inmates in England, and they must balance the welfare of transgender offenders with those other prisoners, particularly women, whose safety could be threatened by prisoners who were born male. It cited the Karen White incident and has gone as far as to actually look at a prison system that protects both the transgender community and the broader community as well. These are really important issues that I raise, because in the justice system we do quite often see people that are very, very vulnerable. We do need to make sure that all of those processes are properly considered to ensure that people’s safety is absolutely paramount. These are some of the things we should be exploring. We need to understand in this Parliament when we change laws what the consequences are, and ensure that those consequences are always protected in terms of community safety. There is no doubt we need to do more. We need to do more in terms of equality, we absolutely need to do more in terms of the LGBTIQ community and we need to do more in terms of discrimination in a broader sense. But the issues in terms of this bill are certainly some that need further exploring to ensure that there are those safeguards and to ensure that we have got things right, because at the end of the day, when it comes to these sorts of situations, we do not get a second chance.
In Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish community, a teacher reported losing her job after revealing she was transgender.
It is alarming to read that a teacher has lost her job because she revealed her gender identity and not for any failure to perform her duties as a teacher.
This sends a message that transgender people cannot freely express their gender in a workplace that is exempt from adequate anti-discrimination protections, thereby making their workplace unsafe for them.
Transgender people experience significant levels of discrimination in society due to intolerance, which feeds into elevated levels of suicidal ideation. Schools should be places of learning and knowledge, not intolerance.
If a teacher was sacked for revealing a Jewish identity this would be seen as anti-Semitism, yet it seems there’s another standard for Jewish schools when the act of revealing a gender can lead to termination of employment.
This is a clear case of double standards and is entirely unacceptable.