A straight colleague challenges the bigotry of Margaret Court

A heterosexual male colleague of mind spoke his mind today about the bigotry that Margaret Court espouses.

Today in the office two of my colleagues embarked on a conversation about the news around Margaret Court that was dominating the Australian Open. Both of these colleagues are heterosexual, married men in their late forties / early fifties, both with a reasonably firm grip on reality and both people who would speak up against intolerance and discrimination. In fact one, of South African Indian background, lived through the oppression of the Apartheid regime.

The conversation started off by my South African colleague asking the other what the deal was with Margaret Court and the rainbow flag protests that were being reported in the news.  My other colleague confidently said:

They need to pull her name off that stadium.  There’s no room for that sort of bigotry in a country like this.

I was sitting next to my colleague when he said this.  He’s not one to mince his words, and to hear this profoundly frank statement made me exceptionally proud to know him.

I posted the comment on Facebook (directly and via Twitter) as soon as what he had said sank in.  In the subsequent 10 hours well over thirty people have ‘liked’ my colleague’s comment, shared it once and reposted it once.  It has also attracted a range of supportive comments.

Clearly it has struck a chord.

I have to agree with my colleague. There is absolutely no room for this sort of bigotry in Australia. Increasingly the wider population is standing up to the hatred of homosexuality that has pervaded our society since the nation was founded.

It is incumbent on the leaders of our society, our governments, to fight the hatred and bigotry that same-sex attracted people face. It has to come from the very top, from the office of the Prime Minister. Sadly Prime Minister Gillard has, to date, shown herself to be completely lacking in the necessary skills to counter this hatred. Maybe she’ll discover them in time to make a difference during her ‘leadership’ but I won’t be holding my breath.

In the meantime I sit comfortable knowing that even if the leader of the nation has sold out to the homophobic right, there is an increasing number of heterosexual citizens who are prepared to stand up to the bigotry and hatred that their same-sex attracted compatriots are having to face.

Thank you to my colleague, and to every other heterosexual supporter fighting for our equality, our rights and our dignity.

Transgressing the GLBT community

Is the GLBT community weakened when a transgender activist sits on a reference group that supports in any way the notion that homosexual and bisexual behaviour is unacceptable.

[SOURCE]

Over recent days I’ve found myself contemplating what the GLBT community is, or is supposed to be.  I live in Melbourne, and base my experience of “GLBT community” from my personal experience of “it” here.  It’s many things to many people.  To some it’s everything.  To others, it’s a “lifestyle” they’d rather not participate in.  Yet for many of us, it’s an integral part of our lives, and something that for the most part enriches our experience of being not “straight”, in one way or another.

So why have I been pondering this?  Something has happened that was for me so radical to my understanding of “GLBT community” that it made me begin to question if this amorphous notion of cohesiveness was simply something in my imagination, or if there was actually something going desperately wrong.  What am I talking about?  Specifically, it involves a well-known transgender activist signing her name, as a representative of Transgender Victoria, to a document that opens with the statement:

The reference group recognised that Jewish Halacha prohibits gay sexual behaviour and, according to orthodox rabbinic interpretation, lesbian sexual behaviour.

That a transgender activist had signed her name to a document making this statement troubles me deeply.  This sends a message of approval, tacit or otherwise, that the aforementioned religious prohibitions against homosexual and bisexual behaviour cannot be challenged in any way.  It shows that the transgender activist in question supports the notion that she is working under a framework of religious intolerance of homosexuality and bisexuality, and that in order to be accepted onto the reference group that this document was formed out of, there can be no dissent on this underlying principle.

The statement in question is misleading, divisive and dishonest whilst the “Jewish Halacha” being referred to is not qualified as being “Orthodox” and whilst there is no mention of a different and accepting interpretation of homosexuality and bisexuality by the Progressive and Conservative Jewish communities.

I sincerely believe the term “Sold Out” applies here.  There is no plausible excuse that could convince me that a representative of an organisation whose mission statement begins with the words “To achieve justice and equity for all transgender people” could put their hand on their heart and say that acknowledging immutable religious intolerance of homosexuality and bisexuality doesn’t sit uncomfortably with them, in the slightest.

Sure, homosexuality and bisexuality are independent of transgender issues, but in the context of GLBT issues and the GLBT community they are inextricably linked.  The bigotry that GLBT people experience is shared collectively.  The suicide rates our youth suffer are shared collectively.  The hurt and intolerance are shared collectively.  Hurt one of us and you hurt all of us.  Sit on a panel of people who accept an understanding that gay people are sinners and you are furthering the collective hate, bigotry and intolerance against all of us.

The actions of this renegade transgender activist who has allowed her principles to be steamrolled by a homophobic Jewish community council has left me staggered and in shock.  If this is what GLBT has become then I want nothing to do with the T, and will have to make do with a diluted GLB community, a community that is less, a community that is not as rich and as fulfilling as I believed it previously was.

However, perhaps this is not what GLBT has become, and perhaps there is simply a person whose actions and beliefs are misguided and has not understood that by allowing herself to be blinkered by the hate and intolerance of some religious bigots, she has let the team down, and that she can at any stage simply say she’s not going to put up with the religious intolerance and the hateful guidelines of the reference group in question and return to the community that has supported her and the values she previously stood for.

Ultimately this is about reducing harm, saving lives and making better of a woefully bad situation.  Suicide and mental health issues amongst trans and same-sex attracted people are very real.  Any intolerance of us, of our relationships, of our community is unacceptable and there is no excuse for it.  Supporting people who are intolerant of us is just as inexcusable.

Only time will tell whether this transgender activist will understand the harm she has done to her cause, and to ours collectively.  It is possible to repair the damage, and I hope that it happens soon.

Why is Ilana Leeds obsessed with Bestiality?

Ilana Leeds enjoys bringing bestiality into the conversation.  What is her obsession with the topic?  Clearly it is a viewpoint endorsed by the AJN Watch web site that publishes her bigoted, hateful and bullying opinions unchallenged.

Ilana said…
B’H No one is judging. On a deeper level, we have to look at homosexuality as equated with bestiality and understand that both activities require the individual to submit to baser instinctive behaviours on one level that requires much effort to control. If we support marches for ‘gay rights’ and support a gay lifestyle, then why are we not marching to support child sex offenders because surely they are ‘just one of many variations of HUMAN sexuality’? Child sex offenders will use that argument to negate criticism of their behaviour to and say that they were merely ‘helping children to express their inner sexual desires’. I know that people like Mikeybear who runs Aleph have great issues with my views on the subject and I want to get away from the personal aspect of it, because there are many worthwhile and gentle sensitive gay people who contribute to society in many very worthwhile ways. However, I for one am not going to support a gay lifestyle and I certainly will not march in favour of sexual behaviour and lifestyle that I disagree with. If I had two people going for a job and both were equally qualified and one was gay, would I hesitate to hire a gay person, definitely not. Would I go to a gay nightclub (despite the fact that I do not hang out at night clubs and never have seen it as a desirable activity), definitely not, but would I stop a gay person coming to a function I (for arguments sake held) definitely not, but I would require a certain code of conduct. Am I in favour of sending my son to a Jewish Youth Group that supports same sex marriage – definitely not, because those sorts of values are not what I want for my son. I had a similar answer to someone who suggested that I remove my son from a school and send him the Caulfield Community School because they believe he has ‘behaviour issues. Now, the Caulfield Community School may be very worthwhile for the sons and daughters of XXXX (removed by blogmaster) and if I wanted my son to become like those poor little blighters and for him to get an education in the social mores of fringe dwellers, I certainly would see that as an option, but I do not. It would be the beginning of the end of him and corrupt him, Now when we choose a youth group, we want certain values to be supported and espoused. I have not come across anywhere in Jewish literature that homosexuality is a Jewish value, although people will argue that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship. I believe that had a deep relationship that was purely spiritual in its essence and love. I think it is very hard for us in these days, when we are so connected to the material and physical world, to conceptualise a love or a relationship that is on a purely spiritual level without physical or sexual expression. I can understand how a mother’s love for her child may entitle her to go beyond condemnation of socially unacceptable sexual behaviour and she may endeavour to ask for acceptance of her child and indeed support from the wider community for her child’s sexuality. However, while the wider community can accept her child as who he or she is, we should avoid accepting his or her deviant sexual behaviour as the norm and indeed we should avoid supporting it as the norm.

Friday, December 17, 2010 10:06:00 AM

Thank you Mr Braitberg

Adam Braitberg was part of the Equal Love Rally in Melbourne on November 20, 2010.  I took a photo of him and a friend Tyger-Lee Baise, both proudly displaying their blue Habonim Dror shirts, and showing their support for equal human rights for all Australians.

From 20101120 Equal Love Rally

Because they participated in this rally, as part of a Jewish organisation, they came under attack on the AJN Watch web site.  You can read all about it in my previous blog.  Keep an eye on the comments on the AJN Watch site though, as the conversation continues (to dismay).

Yesterday Adam’s father, George, made a profound statement, and in doing so has moved me deeply.

I am Adam’s father. To those that see fit to judge someone you don’t know or have ever met, I ask you to explain what right you think you have to behave in this manner. As Jews we are well aware of the history of bigotry, slander and false accusation. To judge my son, without knowing him is perpetuate the belief that “difference” in itself is an excuse for hatred. How ashamed am I of Jews who show such intolerance. I love you Adam. Dad

George
Thursday, December 16, 2010 11:17:00 PM

Adam’s father is a wonderful role model for showing unconditional love and acceptance of his son Adam.  He is an example to every member of the Melbourne Jewish community and the wider Australian society on how we must bring up our children.  It is only with this positive and supportive attitude that we can start to overcome the horrifying level of suicide, self-harm and mental health issues that (religious) intolerance afflicts on Australia’s same-sex attracted youth.

Thank you Mr Braitberg.  You and Adam have demonstrated far greater leadership ability and are infinitely better role models than those who currently claim to speak on behalf of the Jewish community.  They don’t need a ‘GLBT Reference Group’ to arrogantly identify and address “our issues”.  They need intelligent and compassionate leaders like you.

Equal Love Rally. We’re all equal. Get over your intolerance.

Today was another Equal Love Rally in Melbourne.  It was held outside the State Library of Victoria on a glorious sunny Melbourne day.  Lots of people were there.  Lots of ordinary, everyday, normal people.  There were some great speeches.  There was a lot of inspiration, love and acceptance.

In this world there is a lot of intolerance, ignorance and fear around people who don’t conform to some rigid stereotype of “normal”.  Sadly these people lack the compassion, humanity and maturity to understand that their bigoted, homophobic and hateful attitudes are wrong, outdated, and plain old mean.

When will these people grow up and learn to love?

Check out my photos from the Equal Love Rally today on Google Albums and Facebook.

Colt David Hansen: gone but not forgotten

Just recently I wrote about the It Gets Better Project, in response to the spate of youth suicides in the USA.  This amazing project, by Dan Savage and his team, has brought visibility of suicide in same-sex attracted youth as high as the office of the President of the USA.

A bit further back in May I wrote about victims of religious bigotry.  Sadly this problem shows no signs of going away.  There are still desperately unhappy people who are struggling with their sexuality and not receiving the help they need from their parents, family and peers.  Worse still, their plight is often diminished or simply erased.

Thanks to some great people out there, such as Eric Ethington, this invisibility is being turned around.  We are able to get a better understanding of the true person, and their life, loves and the wonderful impact they had on their friends and networks they contributed to.

Just the other day Colt David Hansen of Salt Lake City, Utah died.  It is unclear if his death was accidental.  From what I understand he had been struggling with depression and questions were raised as to whether this was due to a conflict with the Mormon faith.  We may never find out the truth.  You can read about the story as it has come to hand on Eric’s site “Pride in Utah” here and here.  Also take time to read the comments from friends and family.

Colt David Hansen Colt David Hansen Colt David Hansen

Colt David Hansen

 

I have been trying to raise awareness around this issue of religious intolerance of homosexuality in the fundamentalist/Orthodox Jewish world for a long time now.  One year ago I wrote an article about it on Galus Australis and just recently have contributed to a discussion on the same site about some seemingly misguided efforts to address it in the local Jewish community.

It’s only a matter of time before news of a suicide due to intolerance of sexuality comes to light in this community.  I don’t want this to happen but it is inevitable.  Right now the community is for the most part burying its collective head in the sand about it.  There has been some superficial discussion, but for the most part the community leadership won’t acknowledge the problem and is certainly not in any hurry to address it.

Ilana Leeds, a victim of Jewish religious brainwashing

Ilana Leeds posted a hateful comment on Galus Australis. She is a narrow-minded bigot who contributes to the high rate of youth suicide.

[SOURCE]

Ilana Leeds posted a hateful comment on Galus Australis:

1. Same sex marriage – I do not particularly (along with a few others) like having homosexuality presented to me as ‘normal’. It is not and while I do not advocate discrimination against people who are practicing homosexuals, I think if they want marriage and all the other things that go with it,(Like the adoption of children) they need to give up their deviant practices and return to a heterosexual lifestyle and put themselves in order. Children deserve to have a normal family situation as far as possible.

Ilana Leeds believes her god demands she say this because she’s been brainwashed to believe it.

Ilana Leeds is a narrow-minded bigot whose attitudes and beliefs contribute to the high rate of youth suicide.

Her partner in crime Shoshana Silcove is just as shameful.

My Jewish New Year message

My Jewish New Year message is that I will be fighting intolerance of homosexuality by Jewish religious bigots in the new year. Spread the love.

It’s the eve of the Jewish New Year.  The Jewish world moves from 5770 to 5771.

My message for the Jewish New Year is that I am going to continue to fight the hate and bigotry perpetrated by the religious bigots in the Jewish community.  I’m going to fight the attitudes that contribute to the atrocious levels of youth suicide, self harm and mental health issues.

Organisations such as the Jewish Community Council of Victoria will remain my key targets.  Whilst they remain adamant that it’s ok for segments of the Jewish community to remain intolerant of homosexuality, I will fight them.  They will be shown up for the narrow-minded bigots, haters and fools that they are.

Intolerance is unacceptable.

Bring on 5771.  Bring on the fight.

Sending sweet wishes of New Year love.

Michael.

Danby Silent on Anti-Israel Anti-Gay Extremist Jewish Filth Web-site

In September 2009 Michael Danby and I had a brief email exchange.  He told me he was criticising the “dark and ugly recesses of the Internet”.  I wrote back to him and advised him that his concern lacked credibility because he was ignoring dark and ugly recesses of the Internet on his very doorstep.

Wind back one month prior to August 1 2009, now just over a year ago.

In Tel Aviv, Israel, there was a horrific shooting that left two young Jewish Israelis dead.  They happened to be in a gay community centre at the time.  I appealed to many people in the Melbourne Jewish community to speak out against this shooting, to speak out against hate and intolerance of homosexuality, especially from within the Jewish community, and to stand up for the vulnerable and marginalised people in our society.  Amongst these many people was Michael Danby.

I didn’t write just one letter.  I wrote many letters.  I wanted people to hear me, to sit up and to take notice.  I included Michael Danby on every one of these letters.

This is the letter Michael Danby wrote to me on September 17 2009:

From: Michael Danby MHR <michael.danby.mp@aph.gov.au>
Date: 17 September 2009 12:06
Subject: Tova from Parliament House in Canberra
To: Michael Barnett <contact@aleph.org.au>

Dear Michael,

Thankfully this year Rosh Ha’shana this year does not occur during the parliamentary week. Like you, I will be cosseted with family and attending my local shule.

I wish you and your family a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous new year, and well over the fast.

As you might expect I have been strongly advocating issues that I believe will be of interest to you.

In order to understand where this country is going it is important to remember where we have come from. Therefore I wrote, and I hope you will be interested in, an article on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the second world war. Click here.

You will be pleased to know that my strong criticisms – The Dark and Ugly Recesses of the Internet‘ of two online publications crikey.com and newmatilda resulted in newmatilda changing its moderation policy for comments on articles regarding the middle east, while crikey.com Eric Beecher conceded that crikey.com editing and moderation of its comments on its website during the first 3  months of 2009.

Finally, in Parliament I noted the 20 years that Genia Janover has been Bialek’s Principal extraordinaire. Click here.

Wishing you and your family a gute and gebensched yohr

Michael Danby

This was my reply:
From: Michael Barnett <michael@aleph.org.au>
Date: 17 September 2009 10:29
Subject: Re: Tova from Parliament House in Canberra
To: Michael Danby MHR <michael.danby.mp@aph.gov.au>Dear Michael,

Thank you for your well-wishes.

In response to this email I would like to say that there are ‘dark and ugly recesses of the Internet’ here in Melbourne that I have brought to your attention recently via email that are as dark and as ugly as anything you may have commented on today.

Right now the only issues that are of interest to me are 1) the implementation of hate crimes to deal with vilification based on sexual orientation and 2) the insubstantial response by the leaders of every Jewish community in Australia to the hate and intolerance of gay people in the Jewish community in Australia and Israel.

You deal with Jews.  You deal with gay people.  You deal with issues in Australia.  What are you doing to ensure a safe place for GLBT Jews in Australia?

I’ve heard less from you, Michael Danby MP, on this matter than anyone else to date, yet your seat of Melbourne Ports sits across both the Jewish and gay communities.  I call on you to speak out about the intolerance and persecution of gay Jews in Australia.  Can you rise to the challenge?

I sincerely hope you care about us because right now, very few people are standing up for the most marginalised and vulnerable people in the Jewish community in Australia.

Sincerely,
Michael Barnett.

Aleph Melbourne

My letter refers to a Melbourne blog “AJN Watch” which describes itself as:

AJN WATCH – the on-line voice of Australian Orthodox Jewry observes and comments on matters of interest to that community. We particularly monitor prejudice and monopolistic abuse of influence in the pages of the Australian Jewish News – the main source of information to and about Australian Jewry. We spotlight errors, expose misrepresentations and vigorously advocate our community’s positions.

AJN Watch specialises in filth, intolerance and hate.   On August 7 2009 it published a piece entitled “Australian Jewish News, Australian Goyish News or Australian Gayish News?”  In it they wrote:

The last thing their readers are interested in is what is happening in Tel Aviv snakepits of dreck and perversion.

and

Your comment that “Israel is one of the more gay-friendly countries in the world and you don’t have to spend too much time in the more vibrant sections of Tel Aviv to become aware of a strong and tolerant gay culture” indeed nauseates, depresses and disgusts not only Hamodia readers, but all decent, civilized and moral people – of all religious beliefs. Your pride and delight that Israel has become a world-leader in depravity and debasement says much about you and your publication.

Michael Danby ignored my letter.  He did not speak out.  He turned his back on this sinister and vile web site based in his electorate of Melbourne Ports.  Michael Danby turned his back on gay people, on Jews, on Israel, on the memory of Liz Troubishi and Nir Katz, on the people in his electorate, on Melbourne, on Victoria, on Australia and on all of humanity.

Michael Danby wants you to vote for him on Saturday August 21.  He wants you to put your faith in his ability to represent you in the government and in his ability to govern for all of you.  He wants you to trust him.  Michael Danby cannot be trusted on these matters.  He claims to care about gay people.  He claims to care for the Jewish community.  He claims to care for Israel.  The only proven issue that Michael Danby actually cares about is himself and his career.  The rest is just lip-service and pandering.

If there’s one person you should not vote for this election it’s Michael Danby.  If there’s one party you should not vote for it’s the Australian Labor Party.

Michael Danby has let everyone down and he does not deserve reelection.  Tell Michael Danby he should not be reelected to government.  Do this by voting for a party that really cares about human rights and justice.  In Melbourne Ports, this leaves three real options: the Australian Greens, the Secular Party of Australia and the Australian Sex Party.

A vote for Danby and the Australian Labor Party is a vote for intolerance, bigotry, vilification, suffering and persecution.

Think about who you are voting for and why you are voting for them on Saturday August 21, 2010.  If you vote for Michael Danby, you will have it on your conscience.

Michael Barnett.
Ashwood, Victoria.

Shoshana Silcove: “I am against gay marriage”

Shoshana Silcove posted a comment on Mark Baker’s blog on Galus Australis telling the world she is against gay marriage.  That would make her a party pooper and a homophobic bigot, for starters.

Shoshana writes (her spelling errors are included):

I am against gay marriage but, that does not mean I would in any way supoort slaughtering people for being gay. One can see homsexuality as immoral yet, not be in any manner or form a proponent of persecution or genocide of gays. Persecuting or genociding any one group for any reason is horrifc and immoral too. I take umbrage with Mr. Baker’s implication (read between the lines) that those who do not want to see gay marriage legalised are inclined to be immoral persecutors or murderous beasts.

Let’s play a game here.  I think I’ll call it ‘swapsies’.  It goes like this.  Take a word out of a sentence and swap it with one or more other words.  It’s very simple.  We’ll play the game using Shoshana’s statement:

I am against gay inter-racial marriage
I am against gay Jewish marriage
I am against gay Progressive-Jewish-is-not-really-Jewish marriage
I am against gay Muslim marriage
I am against gay Christian marriage
I am against gay indigenous marriage
I am against gay secular marriage
I am against gay religious marriage
I am against gay fat-person marriage
I am against gay really-ugly-person marriage
I am against gay disabled-person marriage
I am against gay marriage-of-convenience marriage
I am against gay marriage

That was fun.  I’m sure I could play the game for hours on end.  Will they bring it our for Xbox or as an Android/iPhone App?  But what would Shoshana Silcove have to say about these?  Would she approve or disapprove of any of them?  Shoshana?   Do any of them appeal to you?  Send me your preferences.  I’d like to hear them.

Dear Shoshana, who gives you the authority to determine which two consenting adults can or can’t get married?  If same-sex marriage doesn’t please you, kindly refrain from commenting.  I don’t care who you marry.  It’s none of your business to make judgement calls about who I can marry.  I may disapprove of your choice in marital partner, if anyone would want to marry you, but to be honest, I don’t give a rats arse.

Michael.