ADC Chairman Anton Block to address Gay & Lesbian community

June 30, 2011

Following the recent news that the Anti-Defamation Commission has included concerns about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues to its purview, ADC Chairman Anton Block is going to be talking on Melbourne’s gay and lesbian radio station JOY 94.9 about the news.

Anton Block

Anton Block

It’s rewarding to see such a high-profile member of Melbourne’s Jewish community, the previous president of  the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and former board member of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, beginning a conversation with the GLBT community.  I hope this is the first of many such conversations, from which increasingly positive outcomes will arise for the welfare of GLBT people in the Jewish community.

Tune in to Doug Pollard’s “Rainbow Report” from 12 noon to 1pm Friday July 1, 2011 on JOY 94.9FM in Melbourne or on the live stream on www.joy.org.au.  Participate in the discussion via SMS on 0427 JOY 949 (0427 569 949), by email to onair@joy.org.au or by Twitter to @rainbowreporter.

Find the link to the show here.


Jewish Broadcasting for the Community (JBC) calls for members

June 29, 2011

From: Yoram Regev <yoram dot regev at gmail dot com>
Date: 28 June 2011 19:35
Subject: JBC: Constitution and Membership Form
To: …, Paul Gardner <pgardner at bigpond dot net dot au>, …

Dear all,

Attached please find the revised JBC constitution and a membership application form.
Please forward the form to as many as you can so our membership starts to pick up. There is also a Friend category which is for supporters who are not members.
Should you have any questions please send them to either myself or Paul Gardner, our interim Chairman.
All application forms should be sent to me on this address (which appears on the form).

Thanks and regards,

Yoram Regev
JBC Interim Board member

Anti-Defamation Commission to deal with GLBT Issues

June 23, 2011

[SOURCE]

Last week I told you to stay tuned for some big news in the Jewish community.  Today I am revealing that news.

Up until April 2011 the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) had refused to speak out in any way on homophobic incidents in the Victorian Jewish community.  You can read my blogs on the topic here.

In a welcome move, the ADC board has unanimously, but without fanfare, passed a motion that has added “GLBT issues” to their purview:

A motion was unanimously passed at the April 13 ADC board meeting to include GLBT issues as part of the organisation’s overall agenda to stand up for human rights.

ADC chair Anton Block told the Star Observer the motion passed was more a “recognition” than a formal resolution.

“It wasn’t so much a resolution saying we’re now going to deal with GLBT issues,” Block said.

“It was a recognition that our mission extends to those issues, but primarily our purpose is to combat antisemitism and racism.

“Dealing with GLBT discrimination is part of, I suppose, our purpose of promoting human rights, speaking out against homophobia or vilification of members of the GLBT community.”

This is a significant move forward in acknowledging that there are serious issues that GLBT people face that have up until now been ignored by the Jewish community ‘hierarchy’.  However the language used by ADC Chairman Anton Block conveys more a tone of reticence than enthusiastic willingness.

Whilst this is definitely a step forward, even if it’s a small one, it is going to be of minimal benefit to anyone if the ADC continues to leave this change to their purview unannounced.  It must talk to the community and tell it that it’s going to be available to receive complaints against as yet unspecified forms of attacks against GLBT people in the Jewish community

The ADC must also make it clear the type of complaints it will handle, and those it won’t, and whether they’ll accept complaints about intolerance or hate-speak directed at GLBT people by non-GLBT people from within the Jewish community.  Further, it must also tell the community what it will do with these complaints.  They must action these complaints to no less a degree than complaints they receive about racism and anti-Semitism.

I am cautiously optimistic about this step forward.  Only time will tell if the ADC are serious are about combatting intolerance against GLBT people, or if this is more of the same lip-service that other sections of the Jewish community have artfully given us.

POSTSCRIPT

Anton Block is the Immediate Past President of the Jewish Community of Council of Victoria and is on the JCCV Executive.  During his term as JCCV President, Anton Block took no action to address any injustice against GLBT people in the community, or to break down any marginalisation or invisibility that GLBT faced within the Jewish community.  The current president of the JCCV, John Searle, was previously Chairman of the ADC .


What do organ donation and homosexuality have in common?

June 20, 2011

[SOURCE] [PDF]

On May 23 2011 the Jewish Community Council of Victoria made a submission to the Victorian Government on the topic of organ donation.  In this submission I found a particularly profound statement by the JCCV President, John Searle:

Also note, the Jewish community is very diverse and ranges in its religious views from ultra-orthodox to secular

This was written in the context of how the issue of organ donation might be treated by different sections of the Jewish community.  The more Orthodox members of the community will have a different approach to organ donation than the Progressives, who may have a different approach to the non-religious or secularists.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  Read on.

The JCCV has stated openly to the government that there are a diverse variety of Jews in the community that it claims it is the voice for, and that in writing the submission, it has made it clear that there is no one position on organ donation in the Jewish community.  I’d agree with that.

Now let’s play a game.  I like to call it “swapsies”.  It’s where you swap some words in a sentence for some other words and see how the changed text reads.  Here’s the revised wording I’d like to propose:

After an extensive community consultation, we have provided a summary below in response to “other matters that should be considered in relation to mechanisms to increase acceptance of homosexuality in Victoria.” Please note that Halacha or Halachic refers to Jewish law and the way Jews live their lives, be it from a religious or traditional perspective. Also note, the Jewish community is very diverse and ranges in its religious views from ultra-orthodox to secular.

This new statement is as equally valid as the one that the JCCV submitted to the Victorian Government.  However it’s not one that the JCCV has yet made, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be, at an appropriate juncture.  Thing is, I was told in person by John Searle in late 2009 that there is only a single Jewish approach to homosexuality.  I challenged him on this outrageous and false statement, one that I’ll go as far as to call a blatant and outright lie, stating to him that there are a range of Jewish views on homosexuality.  That was the point where Searle then sent me this letter telling me he couldn’t work with me because apparently I was being obstructionist.  Me.  Obstructionist.  Ha.  Only to his ego and career prospects.

Thanks to John Searle we now know there’s more than one Jewish perspective on organ donation.  In fact he’s told us there’s a whole range of opinions on the issue in the very diverse Jewish community that the JCCV claims to speak on behalf of.  Funnily enough, I know there’s also a range of opinions on the issue of homosexuality in the same very diverse community that the JCCV claims to speak on behalf of, yet John Searle won’t admit this.

Searle and his JCCV have never once mentioned that the Progressive Jewish community are completely accepting of homosexuality.  So accepting are the Progressives of homosexuality that they’ve recently endorsed their support for legislative change allowing same-sex couples to get married.  But we won’t hear a word of this from the JCCV.  It’s shtumville there.

That looks and smells like the usual JCCV double standards to me.  But that’s not a surprise, because the JCCV is full of smelly double standards.


Stay tuned.

June 15, 2011

In a casual conversation I had today with someone involved in a key organisation in Melbourne’s Jewish community, I heard something amazing, although to the person I was talking to it seemed fairly matter-of-fact.  What I heard has the potential to improve the way GLBT people are treated in the community and I believe it has huge ramifications.  I will disclose more information about this over the coming days, so stay tuned.


Orthodox rabbis champion homosexual acceptance and same-sex marriage

June 14, 2011

[SOURCE]

Our friends over at AJN Watch have published a delightfully accepting and heart-warming piece about homosexuality and marriage equality.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Please thank them for their care and concern.

PS.  If the link above is broken, try this backup PDF version.


Men on Men Art Competition 2011 at the Laird Hotel

June 10, 2011

This year’s “Men on Men” Art Competition at the Laird Hotel in Melbourne is well worth the visit.  You’ll find a really wide range of art styles and techniques on display, and an equally diverse range of masculinity being portrayed.  There’s definitely an abundance of talent on offer.

I was particularly taken by the larger-than-life scruffy lad overlooking the pool table (and a veritable steal for only $600).  Oh, and there’s an extremely clever entry that takes you on quite a journey around Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network (the ticket for this will cost you $450).  No guarantees you’ll still have your virginity after you’ve gone that route.

My entry into the competition this year is of a very handsome, somewhat scruffy, bearish guy.  You’ll find him well hung in the games room, over the pinball machines.  If you can’t get there, stay tuned and I’ll post my entry here after the competition closes.

Men on Men Art Competition 2011

Men on Men Art Competition 2011

Come take a look at the art, on display until June 29 at the Laird Hotel, 149 Gipps Street Abbotsford.  (Note, the Laird is generally a men-only venue, but gladly welcomes women to view the exhibition from 2-5pm on Saturday June 11.)


John Searle, a man whose words and actions walk different paths

June 7, 2011

Over the past month and a bit we’ve heard a number of messages from John Searle, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.

One of the most emphatic of these messages it that we must never turn a blind eye to prejudice, and that prejudice will not be tolerated.1

Another of these messages is that he was the victim of racial taunts when he was at school.2a

Then there’s the message that because of “threats” against the Jewish community it’s unfortunate that there have to be security guards outside Jewish schools and synagogues yet these people are making us all very proud and safe.2b

And lastly there’s the message that the Amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act are going to be good for the Jewish community, to make sure the right people get employed for the job (or as I like to say, to make sure the wrong people aren’t employed for the job).3

In summary, the self-proclaimed “leader” of Victoria’s Jewish community, a person who is familiar with being taunted for his difference, is telling us that we must never allow prejudice, and that we need to protect ourselves against threats of violence, but that it’s ok to prevent certain people from being employed because of their difference, despite the fact that they may be the best person for the job.

In case it’s not yet clear what I’m talking about, we’ve got a heterosexual male Jew telling the Jewish community that they mustn’t discriminate against homosexuals, yet it’s more than acceptable to discriminate against homosexuals, to make sure that religious organisations aren’t burdened with homosexual employees whose personal characteristics conflict with the anti-homosexual teachings of these religious organisations.

As Sue Pennicuik from the Victorian Greens says: “There is no place for discrimination in employment on the basis of personal characteristics”.4

In Victoria there are few places where Jews can’t be openly Jewish.  In Elsternwick and Caulfield you’ll find Jews wearing highly visible garments that identify themselves as Jewish.  In Melbourne CBD and on public transport you’ll find Jews wearing kippot, a religious head cover that immediately identifies them as Jewish.  For the most part these people can get about without being taunted, harrassed, being the victims of bullying or being brutalised.  Most of the time, although not always, as Menachem Vorchheimer will remind us.

By contrast, gay and bisexual men cannot walk down most streets in Melbourne holding hands, hugging or kissing each other or showing other respectable forms of affection or intimacy without abuse being hurled at them, taunted, intimidated or bashed within an inch of their lives.  I recently observed a heterosexual couple kiss passionately on the promenade at Southgate and not a single person looked twice or intruded on their personal space.  Yet if that couple were two men, or perhaps two women, I suspect most would do a double-take, or at best, if they were feeling vocal, tell them to get a room.

In the extreme, I’ve read news (here and here) of gay men in Melbourne being actively hunted as if it were a sport, simply to poofter bash, with death or permanent incapacity sometimes resulting.  This is not uncommon.  It will pay to check out the Anti-Violence Project map of violence reports, showing the location of incidents of violence against GLBT people and a description of what occurred.

In the Jewish community we have a “leader” of a community endorsing media releases quoting rabbis who state that accepting homosexuals to the community council will cause a division in the community.  The same “leader” states that it’s acceptable for orthodox Judaism to discriminate against homosexuals.  And the same “leader” endorses an act of parliament that allows religious organisations to discriminate against homosexuals.

Yet this “leader” tells us that we must never allow prejudice against homosexuals.  But this “leader” offers no protections for homosexual members of his community.  He offers no safe place for homosexual Jews in Victoria.  He offers no message that homosexuals are people like everyone else, to be treated with unconditional respect and with dignity.  He offers no gesture of welcome to homosexual Jews, to be who they are without fear of being taunted, or fear of being discriminated against, or fear of being excluded, or fear of being marginalised.

In fact he offers nothing of benefit for the homosexual Jews in Victoria, nor for the bisexual Jews or the transgender Jews.

Instead what John Searle does offer is further discrimination, further prejudice, further intolerance, further marginalisation and further invisibility.  His words unequivocally don’t match his actions, and that is unacceptable.  It is not the first time I have said this, and at this rate, it certainly won’t be the last.

Yom Hashoa Commemoration Evening – Speech by John Searle  [May 1 2011]

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.

JCCV Welcomes Amendments to Equal Opportunity Act  [May 6 2011]

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is delighted to see that the Victorian Government is proposing amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act as recently announced by the Attorney General, Robert Clark. In particular, the JCCV sees the amendments as rectifying anomalies in Victorian Equal Opportunity legislation as it relates to religious based schools and organisations.

JCCV president John Searle said that “the provisions that remove the inherent requirement test as it applies to faith based schools is a vast improvement for all Victorians and will ensure that all faith based schools will be able to hire staff who uphold the values and beliefs of the school and the school population. This is a very positive step for all those schools and organisations.”

Searle noted that “the amendments will ensure we have a fair balance between preventing discrimination and ensuring that schools and other organisations are able to employ people who conform with the value system and beliefs of the organisation. In this way, we will limit the possibilities for clashes, offence and tension in the workplace.”

Speech by J Searle at 2011 Yom Ha’atzmaut Cocktail Reception (and here)  [June 1 2011]

Of course, there are times when I am aware of being Jewish. I don’t remember when I first became aware of the fact that I was Jewish, but I do recall there were certain racial taunts at primary school and there were times I had to stand up for who I was or rather what I was; Jewish.

My kids have also had moments of discovery. I can recall the first time my they asked me with some bewilderment why there were no security guards at a non-Jewish school we were visiting. You see they had never seen a school without security guards. Unfortunately, as many in this room will realise, because of the threats against the Jewish community all our schools have guards.

All of our synagogues also have guards.

Imagine if every time you dropped your kids off at school, went to Church, Temple or your House of Worship you saw guards out the front. Often those guards or protectors come from the dedicated band of volunteers comprising the CSG and as I said earlier, in that way they are making us all very proud, and safe.

Media release: Greens MP stops Equal Opportunity Amendment Bill in the upper house  [June 3 2011]

This bill will allow faith-based organisations and schools to discriminate in employment matters on the basis of a person’s religious beliefs or activities, sex, sexual orientation, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status and gender identity, without the current qualifier that the attribute must be an inherent requirement of the job (introduced by the previous government in 2010 in attempt to balance religious freedom with freedom from discrimination).

“However, neither the current act, nor the proposed changes balance religious freedom with the fundamental human rights of everyone to equality and protection against discrimination,” Ms Pennicuik said.

“There is no place for discrimination in employment on the basis of personal characteristics”, she said. “Employers should not be asking employees or job applicants about their personal lives. The only questions should be about qualifications and experience that are genuine requirements of the job”.


Israeli Haredi MK echoes Nazi-style sentiments about gays

June 6, 2011

[SOURCE]

Coming out of the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Israel today is some deeply disturbing news, emphasising the problems that confront the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities in Israel.

Israel is a world leader in GLBT rights in many ways, yet despite this they constantly face stiff opposition from their ultra-orthodox communities when it comes to issues that contradict their religious teachings.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin plans to meet with leaders of the gay community in Israel in honor of Gay Pride Month on Monday, raising the ire of haredi MKs.

On Sunday, Yediot Aharonot reported that United Torah Judaism fiercely opposes the event and Rivlin’s participation.

“They aren’t people like everyone else,” MK and Deputy Education Minister Menahem Eliezer Moses told the paper. “In the Torah it says that this is an abomination, and the fact is that a conference like this is in the Knesset means that a coalition that [UTJ] is a part of is giving it patronage and legitimization. It doesn’t make sense.

These words from MK Moses resonate with overtones of Hitler dealing with the “Jewish problem”.  Can he not hear what he is saying?  It alarms me that these ultra-orthodox Jews have very short memories.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,342 other followers

%d bloggers like this: