Caulfield Synagogue President Robert Weil smears gay people following his transphobic attack

June 5, 2015

The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse has brought to light a litany of hideous sexual abuse against children.  Consistent with past behaviour, Robert Weil has again tried to smear homosexual people, this time by labelling paedophiles exposed in this Royal Commission as “gay”, evidenced in a comment posted on J-Wire story “Transgender wedding in New Zealand“:

Robert Weil says:

I’ll grant you it wasn’t well handled at the Yeshivah Michael, but it wasn’t Rabbi’s who “caused the mess”. The mess was caused by sexual predators who delighted in sodomizing little boys. The Rabbis you refer to were not the perpetrators, unlike the gay Catholic priests at Ballarat and the gay teachers at Knox Grammar.

Robert Weil

Robert Weil

The sexual orientation of paedophiles is irrelevant and does not contribute in any way to the abuse.  Further, the victims of some of these male paedophiles were girls as well as boys.

The following comment by Robert Weil compounds the bigotry demonstrated in his attack, this time on transgender people.  He diminishes the merit of the relationship reported in the story by labelling it as a “dysfunctional situation” and presenting it as shameworthy:

Robert Weil says:

Ben, don’t be so dismissive of Rabbis. They understand far more than you, as they are generally the ones that have to be called in eventually to try and clean up the mess caused by dysfunctional situations such as this. Have some sympathy for the parents too.

Neither the wedding nor the relationship are dysfunctional.  The couple are normal, happy people in love with each other.  That they lack the support of family members is unfortunate and not their fault.

Ordinarily I’d be less alarmed by this type of transphobic and homophobic attack, putting it down to ignorance of the harm caused by such attitudes.  However what disturbs me most is that the author of these comments is the President of the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, and as such holds a position of influence in the Jewish community in Melbourne:

Robert Weil - President - CHCThe prejudice on display here demonstrates a considerable disregard for a vulnerable and marginalised segment of society.  Physical attacks on homosexual and transgender people are not uncommon, are frequently brutal and may even result in permanent disfigurement, disability or death.  More common though are the self-loathing, helplessness and isolation that same-sex attracted and gender diverse people feel due to intolerance and bigotry, leading to poorer mental health outcomes, self harm and possible suicidal behaviour.

It would be helpful for Robert Weil and those who align with his intolerant perspective on sexual orientation and gender diversity to become more informed about the harms their attitudes can cause to the members of their community.

In 2015 there is no excuse for ignorance of these issues.  Over two years ago the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) began promoting the No To Homophobia campaign.  Robert Weil’s synagogue, Caulfield Hebrew Congregation (CHC), belongs to the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria, a JCCV Affiliate.  It is incomprehensible that CHC would have been oblivious to the JCCV’s push for its affiliates to join in the No To Homophobia campaign, given that the JCCV recruited at least 25 other affiliates accordingly.

It is my hope that the board of the CHC, together with their spiritual leadership, are able to formulate a way forward that includes education on sexual orientation and gender identity, whereby they can proudly put their name to saying No To Homophobia, and stamp out the small-minded and harmful attitudes demonstrated here by their President.  Doing so will strengthen their community, build social cohesiveness and hopefully save lives.  Failing to grow in this way can only do irreparable harm.

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