Transgressing the GLBT community

Nov 8, 2011

[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.


What do the JCCV, the ACL and fascist regimes have in common?

Apr 3, 2011

Two recent media releases have disturbed me deeply, one from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), and the other from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) .

In the February 16 2011 media release “JCCV, GLBT and Halacha, together We Can Move Forward” from the JCCV, President John Searle gives tacit approval to the notion that admission of any gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organisation will be damaging to the Jewish community:

Rabbi Rapoport contends that the GLBT community must accept that they cannot become official members of the JCCV as this would fracture the Jewish community.

In the March 30 2011 media release “Vic EO Commission oversteps mark in promoting homosexuality” from the ACL, Victorian Director Rob Ward declares that it is troubling that homosexuality be considered a normal behaviour:

“The suggestion that the aim is to have the sexual orientation of “gay, lesbian and transgender sportspeople….so public that it’s normal, so people don’t think about it”  is very troubling,” he said.

Here we have two organisations that are making statements that support the notion that GLBT people are in some way a threat to the stability of society and are abhorrent, abnormal and inferior.

Recent history reminds us of the atrocities perpetrated against homosexual men by the Nazi regime.  Similarly intolerant to homosexuals was South Africa under Apartheid.

From 1969 to 1987, psychiatrists of the South African Defence Force were implicated in serious abuses, stemming from attempts to cure homosexual conscripts

The long history of medical treatment to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals reached a peak in the seventies. The results were unconvincing, if not hopeless, and experience showed that neither patients nor therapists found it satisfactory.

Current regimes that persecute homosexual men include the Iranian and Ugandan governments.  The situation is so dire in Iran that the death penalty is the punishment for homosexual activity.

The JCCV has resigned itself to accepting the exclusionary stance proffered by Rabbi Rapoport and goes on to state:

However, the JCCV has a responsibility as the roof body to what it can do for the GLBT community within this restriction.

The language that JCCV President John Searle endorses in this media release, stating that GLBT Jews are unworthy of JCCV membership sends the message that GLBT Jews are a danger to the stability of society and that full and unconditional acceptance of us and our organisations is unacceptable.

This attitude is reminiscent of that of fascist regimes of the past, the same regimes that persecuted Jews and homosexuals, resulting in the genocide of the Holocaust that marks one of the blackest stains on humanity to date.

It is imperative the JCCV and the ACL distance themselves from any notion that homosexual, bisexual and transgender men and women are inferior to, less normal than, or more damaging to society than heterosexual men and women and the organisations that represent them.  While the JCCV, the ACL and any other such organisation perpetuates these notions, they are no better than Germany under the Nazi regime, South Africa under Apartheid or the current Iranian and Ugandan governments.

Lastly, the greatest irony of the stance the JCCV takes on homosexuality is that Anton Block, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (the branch of the JCCV that investigates and fights anti-Semitism and holocaust rhetoric) founded and sits on the very JCCV reference group that gives tacit support to Rabbi Rapoport’s statement.  The same organisation that is charged with fighting anti-Holocaust attitudes is actually promoting similar attitudes to that which the Nazi party and Block’s birth country of South Africa endorsed.


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