Jews can be Jewish without Israel. Discuss.

May 31, 2011

Australian rabbis endorse marriage equality

May 25, 2011

Nearly four years after the 2007 statement from the Union of Progressive Judaism where they overturned their ban on same-sex commitment ceremonies, the UPJ have now endorsed full marriage equality under Australian law, as per the following media release from Australian Marriage Equality.

Media Statement
Wednesday May 25th 2011

RABBIS GIVE STRONG SUPPORT TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Australia’s Progressive Rabbis have endorsed marriage equality.

Australian Marriage Equality National Convener, Alex Greenwich, and former AMA head, Prof. Kerryn Phelps, have welcomed the statement saying it highlights support for allowing same-sex marriages among people of faith.

“We welcome the Rabbis’ strong statement in support of marriage equality because it highlights that people of faith can and do support full legal equality for all Australians”, Mr Greenwich said.

“To often this issue is wrongly portrayed as ‘God v gays’ when it is really about the equality and dignity of all people.”

“The statement is important, not only because it is made by religious leaders, but because it is based on religious values such as the recognition of human dignity and because it recalls the deep discrimination Jewish people have endured.”

The statement was also welcomed by former AMA head, Prof Kerryn Phelps, who was married in a Jewish ceremony in the US to her wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps.

“I am very pleased leaders of my faith have now formally declared support for my marriage and call on the Australian Government to do the same”, Professor Phelps said.

“Rabbis have been performing same-sex marriage ceremonies for some years now, and it’s important these marriages have the same legal recognition as other marriages.”

“The recognition and respect that my faith provides our relationship gives us great strength .”

The full statement from the Union of Progressive Judaism is attached.

For more information contact Alex Greenwich on 0421 316 335.


United Nations Holocaust Memorial Day 2011

May 21, 2011

The Jewish Holocaust Centre invited me to their United Nations Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration ceremony on January 27 2011 to light a candle in memory of the homosexual victims of the Holocaust.  Many thousands of homosexual and bisexual men were captured and murdered by the Nazis simply for the crime of expressing their love for other men.  I attended the ceremony with my partner Gregory.

Michael Barnett lighting a candle at the 2011 UNHMD Commemoration Ceremory

Michael Barnett lighting a candle at the 2011 UNHMD Commemoration Ceremory

This is the second time in recent years, to the best of my knowledge, that the JHC has included a representative of the GLBT community to participate in their UNHMD ceremony.  I was similarly invited a few years back for their ceremony at the JHC premises in Elsternwick.  It was a genuine honour to have been able to participate in both.

Audience at the 2011 UNHMD Commemoration Ceremony

Audience at the 2011 UNHMD Commemoration Ceremony

Take a few moments to read the page in the JHC newsletter and view the photos from the ceremony.  Think about the genocidal hate in this world that is perpetrated and the people who are needlessly killed because of it.  Also think about the people who say they won’t stand for any intolerance against homosexual men and women and yet continue to perpetrate the intolerance themselves.


IDAHO and the JCCV

May 17, 2011

Today, May 17 2011, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).  Many organisations and people go to great effort to acknowledge the occasion and take a stand against homophobic and transphobic intolerance in society.

Take for example the head of Victoria Police, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland.  He has a pretty supportive message.  Similarly, Dr Helen Szoke from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has an unambiguous message on inclusion.  Even Hilary Clinton and Jeremy Browne each had a message of support.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria set up a reference group to investigate the issues affecting GLBT people in the Jewish community.  They’ve also made it pretty clear, via their messenger of intolerance Rabbi Chaim Rapoport (here and here), that GLBT people are not welcome as members of their organisation, despite JCCV President John Searle saying that “racism and prejudice in all its evil forms will not be tolerated.”

This week the JCCV published a number of media releases.  There was one on how they’re getting on well with the Catholic community,  another on working with Victoria Police on combatting anti-semitic hate crimes, yet another on working with people with disabilities, and lastly one on welfare organisations in the community (mind you, not one of them openly advertises services supporting GLBT people).

I had trouble finding the JCCV media release on how they’re supportive of initiatives that combat homophobic intolerance in the Jewish community in this week of IDAHO.  I tried to find one, but I just couldn’t see it.  I guess they had it all prepared, but didn’t manage to get it out in time.

Now I’ll just have to wait until next year’s IDAHO to see if the big bad JCCV bully has learnt a lesson from the wider community and has realised it’s time to stop creating the hate and intolerance and start fighting it.

And lastly a message to John Searle.  You talk about racism and prejudice in all its evil forms.  Take a look in the mirror mate.


New Israel Fund comes to Australia

May 11, 2011

[SOURCE 1] [SOURCE 2] [SOURCE 3]

NIF is coming to Australia and I have a feeling this new player in the Australian Jewish scene is going to usher in a breath of fresh air.

From a GLBT perspective this is very exciting, simply by looking at their list of Civil and Human Rights Grantees:

Al-Qaws – for Sexual and Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society

Promotes the development and rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community within Palestinian society.

and

Assiwat (through Kayan)

Provides a safe and anonymous space for gay Palestinian women; pursues recognition for their sexual and gender identity and promotes their rights through personal empowerment, raising awareness and public education.

Further, their Shatil program advocates for issues such as Freedom of Choice in Marriage (video) and to give voice to Orthodox lesbian women in Israel.

NIF Australia are on Facebook.  That seems to be the best place to connect with them currently.  Also check out We Are NIF.

I sincerely hope they engage with the local GLBT community, both Jewish and wider, and build some strong bridges.


JCCV’s John Searle speaks on prejudice with gay abandon

May 4, 2011

[SOURCE]

On May 1 2011 at the Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Commemoration Evening, Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle delivered an address, in which he said:

It is up to us to play our part in ensuring that another holocaust never occurs. Be it attacks against Jews, blacks, homosexuals or political rivals, we must be ever vigilant in bringing the message to the world – never again! We must educate our children; help them to understand that we cannot turn a blind eye, not to racism, not to stereotyping, not to suffering, not to prejudice of any form, not ever. We must send the message, that racism and prejudice in all its evil forms will not be tolerated.

Just to refresh you, John Searle published a media release earlier this year in which he gave tacit support to the notion that organisations representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people would not be welcome as a members of the JCCV, the organisation he is currently president of.

John Searle also told me in person late in 2009 that he believed it was acceptable for (orthodox) Judaism to be intolerant of homosexuality.  He refuses to discuss this (or any other) matter further as he knows it will blow open his facade of tolerance toward GLBT people.

I am in complete dismay at the absolute arrogance of this man, who on the one hand declares publicly that prejudice against homosexuals will not be tolerated, and on the other hand dishes out homophobic prejudice with gay abandon.


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