Why is Victoria Police continually excluding the only organisation representing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people from their annual reception with the Jewish community?
For the third consecutive year Aleph Melbourne, the only organisation representing GLBT people in the Melbourne Jewish community, has not received an invitation to attend this year’s Victoria Police Jewish community reception. This year’s cocktail party was organised in conjunction with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), as it was in previous years. Aleph Melbourne was invited to the 2008 and 2009 Victoria Police Jewish Community reception dinners.
I was advised by Bruce Colcott of Victoria Police in advance of the 2011 Victoria Police Jewish community cocktail reception:
The organisers invited those members of the Jewish Community who hadn’t been given an opportunity in the past to attend to represent their organisations.
Giving the benefit of the doubt, it would be fair to say that with the number of organisations in the Jewish community, “the organisers” would have been able to include everyone they had previously overlooked in their 2010 and 2011 events. It staggers me to think that with 100 police and over 70 members of the Jewish community in attendance, there wouldn’t have been enough room to invite one more person.
In their 2011 GLBT Reference Group report, the JCCV said that all community organisations should adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination and vilification based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity and that it was clear that Jewish members of the GLBT community are subjected to discrimination, harassment and abuse because of their sexuality.
It would seem that the JCCV haven’t followed their own advice and Aleph Melbourne continues to be discriminated against by them and some of the wider Jewish community.
I question whether there is some sinister motivation for the ongoing exclusion of the most vulnerable, marginalised, and excluded group of people from such an event. Victoria Police have not been able to come up with a credible reason why there has been such an “oversight” on previous occasions.
Does Victoria Police have a policy of excluding GLBT organisations from these types of events? If not, why the ongoing exclusion? It doesn’t bode well for their liaison with the GLBT community.
22 Jun 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
THERE was no emergency call and no suspicious characters or packages that led 100 police to descend on Beth Weizmann Community Centre earlier this month. There was, however, plenty of goodwill and friendship, as the Men in Blue and the Jewish community came together for their annual reception.
Commander Ashley Dickinson chats with hate-crime victim Menachem Vorchheimer.
“We are fortunate to enjoy warm and productive
relationships with Victoria Police at all levels.” Nina Bassat
Now in its sixth year, the cocktail function saw Victoria Police men and women and over 70 members of the Jewish community, as well as representatives from other ethnic communities, celebrate diversity.
“This night is a significant occasion on the police calendar and indicates the commitment of the force to community engagement as a mainstream policing strategy,” said commander Ashley Dickinson, who acted as host and emcee on the evening alongside deputy commissioner Tim Cartwright.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Nina Bassat thanked police for the way they handled recent protests outside Parliament House, which was hosting a cocktail party to celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday at the time. Anti-Israel demonstrators screamed abuse, called for the destruction of the Jewish State and burned an effigy of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.
“We are fortunate to enjoy warm and productive relationships with Victoria Police at all levels,” she said.
“This enables us to feel as a community that our voices are heard, and that we can count on VicPol to do their utmost to ensure our safety,” she added.
A Q&A session with a young member of the police force and a performance by Leibler-Yavneh College’s a cappella choir followed.
We’re often asked what we do, how we support the Jewish community and build social cohesion within the wider multicultural community. Given the JCCV 2012 Appeal, it is timely to address these questions.
A good starting point is to define the role of a peak body – a representative organisation that provides information dissemination services, membership support, coordination, advocacy and representation, and research and policy development services for members and other interested parties…
and wraps up with:
So to our original question – the JCCV who? We speak on behalf of our community and are recognised as the body to turn to for issues regarding the Jewish and broader communities. There is so much more that we would like to do if we were better resourced and we need your support to remain relevant, viable and effective. , and to increase our efforts on the community’s behalf, we need our community’s support and your understanding.
Just before you whip out your credit card and fork out your hard-earned, take a moment to ponder the integrity of the message you’re being fed and question whether you’re donating your money to an honest, ethical organisation.
The JCCV appear to be taking some creative license here in having you believe they speak on behalf of the entire Jewish community. It is clear that they don’t represent the best interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or same-sex attracted Jews whilst they stand by the following claim:
The reference group recognised that Jewish Halacha prohibits gay sexual behaviour and, according to orthodox rabbinic interpretation, lesbian sexual behaviour.
So whilst the JCCV would want you to believe it represents the entire Jewish community in Victoria, in reality it only represents those people who are heterosexual, those who are pretending to be heterosexual, or those who are openly same-sex attracted and celibate. Some honesty in their marketing would be a start (followed by some integrity in their leadership).
I should add that this over-zealous desire to infer representation of an entire community of Jews is not constrained to Victoria, as has recently been evidenced in New South Wales, where their orthodox rabbinical council inaccurately claimed representation over all “mainstream” Jews in that state.
If you’re looking to donate money to a worthwhile organisation that is genuinely interested in the welfare of all people in the community, and not just those that meet with certain narrow religious expectations, ask some questions first. Find out if the organisation you plan to fund is accepting and inclusive of all people, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity, and if they welcome and recognise those people, along with their partner and any children, unhesitatingly.
The Senate has written to advise formal receipt of my submission to their inquiry.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
11 April 2012
E-mail: mikeybear69 @ gmail.com
Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010
I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your submission to the above inquiry, and to advise that the committee has released it as a public document and numbered it as Submission No. a939. Any personal details, such as addresses and phone numbers, have been removed from your submission. Names have also been withheld where this has been requested. You are now free to circulate your submission to other parties should you wish to do so.
Documents provided to Senate committees become committee documents upon receipt, and it is the prerogative of the relevant committee to determine whether and how it will accept and publish such documents. In this inquiry, the committee will not be publishing on its website every submission received from individuals. That is because the committee is anticipating thousands of submissions and form/standard letters from individuals, and it is not physically possible for all of them to be published on the website due to staffing and resource limitations. As time and resources permit, the committee will publish a selection of individual submissions, representing a broad range of views that are indicative of the types of submissions that have been received by the committee. An equal number of individual submissions supporting and opposing the bill will be published.
All submissions received will be provided to members of the committee during the course of the inquiry for their consideration. At the conclusion of the committee’s inquiry, public submissions will be tabled in the Senate chamber as public documents.
Your submission is protected by parliamentary privilege. Parliamentary privilege refers to the special rights and immunities attached to the Parliament which are necessary for the discharge of parliamentary functions. This means that you cannot be prosecuted or disadvantaged because of anything you have provided in evidence, or because you gave such evidence.
In a submission to the Australian Senate on Marriage Equality, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick has called for the decriminalisation of marijuana for strictly religious sanctioned use to assist gay Jewish men in achieving sexual redemption.
In what can only be described as a cliff-hanging turn of events, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, has come out and admitted in a submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into Marriage Equality that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of the Torah that has to this day posed as a religious barrier to gay marriage.
In the Senate submission Rabbi Gutnick stated that the traditional interpretation of the Torah has rendered sex between two men problematic, because the translation of the Torah into English was thought to be that a man should not sleep with another man as he would sleep with a woman, with the penalty for doing so that they both be stoned to death.
He felt that this attitude to homosexuality was deeply troubling and discriminatory and so sought advice from a pool of sage rabbis from around the world. These rabbis looked at the original wording in the Torah and felt that maybe there had been a misunderstanding of God’s word and that there was room for a better interpretation, one that offered a more acceptable outcome.
After weeks of collaboration, these rabbis unanimously agreed to reinterpret the Torah and provided an English translation that now states that a man should not sleep with a man as he would with a woman, but rather he should sleep with a man differently to how he would sleep with a woman. However should he be found to be sleeping with a man as he would with a woman, they should both become stoned to a state of holy happiness, except if there’s a dearth of marijuana.
And this is where Rabbi Gutnick has called upon the government to decriminalise the use of marijuana, for strictly religious purposes, to ensure that two men found having the wrong type of sex with each other are dealt with in a more humane and appropriate fashion. The pool of rabbis agreed that each man should be given a bong and a quantity of marijuana and be instructed to smoke the other man’s pipe until each had reached a state of spiritual redemption.
Rabbi Gutnick clearly expressed in the Senate submission that this relaxation of the use of marijuana would only be required for Jewish men and not for gentiles, as gentiles are spiritually unclean, due to not having had a religious circumcision ceremony.
Most unexpectedly, Rabbi Gutnick apologised to the gay community for his earlier claim that he would be opposing gay marriage and noted that since this religious loophole had been found to the previously problematic issue of homosexuality, he now had no issue with gay marriage, and in fact fully endorsed it, claiming that gay men are now encouraged to “shtoop like rabbits, especially on Shabbat”.
The explanation given in the Senate submission was that he realised that if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia, he wanted the Jewish community to have unfettered access to the estimated $161 million dollars of wedding spend likely to be outlaid on same-sex marriages.
He said that it would revitalise the kosher catering and hospitality industry, that kosher food suppliers would feel the surge of business and that all manner of Jewish shops and enterprises would thrive from the rush of gay weddings, especially the Jewish diamond and ring merchants. Rabbi Gutnick went on to say that the kosher butchers would do particularly well because he knew how much gay men liked their meat, and added that the kosher fish-mongers would do particularly well from lesbian weddings. Rabbi Gutnick went to great pains to explain in the Senate submission that his connection to Kosher Australia should not be perceived as a conflict of interest.
Rabbi Gutnick’s new enthusiasm for gay marriage was evidenced by his statement that Orthodox Judaism was particularly sensitive to the needs of single-sex celebrations, because in traditional heterosexual weddings the men and the women were required to be separated by a mechitzah, and so there was an existing culture of men celebrating with men and women celebrating with women. He added that it’s actually a principle feature of the religion that men must spent considerable amounts of time with other men, in close confines, in the absence of women. He said he felt that it was very homoerotic at times, and the headiness of the masculinity in the crowded prayer and study sessions was particularly appealing, especially on those hot days, when the men were dripping with a particularly musky sweat, and were just a little frustrated. He noted that this frustration was most evident when the men were denied sexual gratification with their wives during their periods of uncleanliness, and further exacerbated by the total religious prohibition on masturbatory relief.
In the summary of the submission, Rabbi Gutnick repeated his apology for the long overdue admission that to deny gay men and women the right to equality was in fact an oppresive and persecutory behaviour and that he had looked back at the history of the Jewish people and felt that he was in no place to call for the superiority of heterosexual Australians over homosexual Australians.
An addendum to the submission included a suggestion that Rabbi Gutnick officiate at the first mass Jewish gay and lesbian wedding in Australia, co-hosted by Adam Hills of the In Gordon St Tonight fame, because he said the ABC studios in Elsternwick were at the centre of the ultra-religious quarter of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and that he was particularly proud of the ground-breaking work that Adam Hills had done to break down barriers in the community around gay marriage.
Gregory and I participated in the Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight Mass Same-sex wedding. It’s been a positive and rewarding experience for us.
Tonight my partner Gregory and I got married. We made a public declaration, affirming our love for each other. We were dressed in our sartorial best, freshly shorn and groomed like two gay blades.
We had a bucks night the week before and we even had a lovely party afterward, with wonderful catering. Oh, and there were bomboniere.
I have to be honest with you. It wasn’t a real wedding, and we didn’t really get married. But yes, there was a wedding, on TV, in which as reality actors, we pretended to get married. You see, currently in Australia two men like Gregory and me are not allowed to get married to each other. That’s gay.
But despite the mean-spirited Howardian legalistic prohibition on us blokes tying the knot, the lovely team at Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight decided to throw us a big ole gay wedding. And throw us a wedding they did. There were photoshoots, interviews, a special bucks and hens night (coz there were some chicks as well as some blokes wanting to tie the knot), the main event, wedding presents and even a cocktail reception afterward. Oh, and there was live entertainment too, although it seemed more like it had been freshly exhumed. And all at tax-payer expense. Thank you tax paying Australia, and especially Jim Wallace and Bill Muehlenberg, coz I know how much you hip dudes would have wanted to help us celebrate our homosexual union.
If you know me you’d know that I’ve been very activisty in raising awareness of the discrimination that a not insignificant section of Australia’s population faces when it comes to equality in relationship recognition. I’ve protested (peacefully) at the Equal Love rallies. I helped my partner campaign as a then-candidate for the Secular Party of Australia in the 2010 Federal Election (because the party supported marriage equality). I manage the Proud to be a Second Class Australian Facebook group, with a moniker aimed to draw attention to being treated as second class by the Federal Government. I give money to Get Up! to campaign for marriage equality. I’m even a paid member of Australian Marriage Equality.
I don’t think I could possibly make it any clearer that I am trying to achieve a turnaround in the marriage legislation in Australia, to remove the discriminatory words that, for no good reason, prevents me from marrying my partner. That said, we are already living in a legally recognised relationship under Victorian state legislation because we entered a civil union on April 21, 2010. Sadly though this relationship is only valid in Victoria and carries no legal weight anywhere else in the world. It’s also not the same as being married. You might ask why? Well, quite simply, because it’s not a marriage. It’s a civil union, or a registered relationship, or a domestic partnership, or whatever else you want to call it, but it’s not a marriage.
Do I want to get married? Good question. Yes, and no. To be honest I don’t really know. Parts of me want to get married and then go and say to those who don’t believe in equality “See, two poofs can now get married, so stick your bigotry…”. More than that I want to be a positive example of a successful same-sex relationship, to help empower those in their closets, and say “Gregory and I are two men, married to each other. If we can do it, so can you. Be proud of who you are”. Other parts of me simply don’t like the old-fashioned, out-dated notion of marriage that binds two people together, until either one dies or they get a divorce. Camels and goats must be fatted and dripping in gold chokers if you must give a dowry.
I am committed to being in my relationship with Gregory, and irrespective of any piece of paper or legal status, we love each other very much and want to be deeply interconnected in each other’s lives. I know what we mean to each other. We’re special in each other’s eyes and hearts and that’s something legislation can’t change. But it can make us equal in society, and that’s what we both want. Equality. Incidentally, some narrow-minded folk believe that two gay men can’t be equal in society, and therefore shouldn’t get married, because we can’t have children, or that even that we’d be depriving the children of a mother, and therefore bad parents, blah blah blah. With two well-adjusted adult children under his belt Gregory certainly isn’t looking to have any more. And we are equal in society.
Now, around the middle of February this year Gregory sent me an email asking if I wanted to be in the Adam Hills IGST mass gay wedding:
To join our Mass Gay TV Wedding on March 26, email firstname.lastname@example.org – include your contact details and a pic of the happy couple!
I pondered the idea and then without consulting Gregory I sent in an application to be part of the wedding. I thought that if he was tempting fate with asking me to be part of a TV wedding, I’d accept the challenge and commit him, and me, to being part of it. 🙂
We were accepted by the IGST team and told there were going to be a number of events over the coming weeks culminating in the TV wedding. It was becoming exciting. A bit like a real wedding. Photos, what to wear, bring some food, look good, get hair cut (#2 clippers on each other…), vajazzle, you know, the usual stuff. There was a sense of anticipation. A bit like a real wedding.
We told our family and friends about this. They got excited. Very excited. Colleagues were talking, even those who were usually a little uneasy with the “gay” thing were getting excited for Gregory and me. I was even asked by a colleague, who only last year told me he didn’t believe in gay marriage, whether I was going to invite the guys from work to a bucks night. After a coffee and a chat he even seemed comfortable with the notion that marriage equality might have some merit in treating people on an equal basis. Yes, equality is about being equal.
Gregory told me many of his colleagues were having kittens because he was getting married. They really couldn’t contain their excitement for him. And on Facebook I was getting a variety of well-wishes from people who wanted to know when “it” was and then wished us all sorts of lovely things in anticipation of the big day (or is it the big gay…?). Things were abuzz.
I really started feeling like I was getting married, for real. When we got civil unionated in 2010 people were happy for us, but not to the same level as they had become around the IGST wedding event. It was as if the notion of marriage conveyed a special status, over and above any other sort of life event or relationship recognition. Funny that. Because it does. It’s the ultimate in happy. And it’s the ultimate in silly too. Just look at the amount of money people throw at weddings. It’s big business.
Quite remarkably though, and I think this is about as significant as it gets, Gregory told me that tonight, on his way home, a dear friend of his told him that he had decided that it wasn’t so bad after all if two blokes wanted to get married. He threw his religious belief coins up in the air and they both landed queen-side up. And the world didn’t stop, and the sky didn’t fall in.
People have been talking because of the IGST wedding event. They are talking about how lovely it is to see two guys getting married, and two gals getting married, and they cried and they were happy. These people and conversations are actually changing attitudes and opening minds. Oh, and my Facebook account has melted with all the wonderful messages from people who saw us on the TV and loved that we were getting married. I have never ever had a bigger response to anything on my Facebook page than to our participation in this event. It’s really quite overwhelming, and humbling.
So we got TV married tonight, in a very happily-ever-after way. Two handsome princes rode off into the sunset and shared a bit of love around the place, and hopefully they made a difference.
PS. If you missed the TV coverage of this event, you can catch up on it here.
PPS. If you want to tell the Australian government why you support marriage equality, you can make a submission here. It only takes a few minutes. Be quick as the deadline is April 2, 2012. You can read other people’s public submissions on the site, to get an idea of what they are saying. Speak from the heart. It need only be a few paragraphs. Thanks.
Madonna is standing up to the vile homophobic Russian government. Madonna is awesome.
Madonna is pure awesome:
I’m a freedom fighter. My show My songs My work My art Is all about freedom of expression Freedom to choose to speak to act Always with humanity and compassion I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels opressed. I don’t run away from adversity. I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity.