Today is IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. In stunning silence the JCCV prove yet again they are insincere on wanting to do anything to combat homophobia in the Jewish community.
Today, May 17 2011, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). Many organisations and people go to great effort to acknowledge the occasion and take a stand against homophobic and transphobic intolerance in society.
Take for example the head of Victoria Police, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland. He has a pretty supportive message. Similarly, Dr Helen Szoke from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has an unambiguous message on inclusion. Even Hilary Clinton and Jeremy Browne each had a message of support.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria set up a reference group to investigate the issues affecting GLBT people in the Jewish community. They’ve also made it pretty clear, via their messenger of intolerance Rabbi Chaim Rapoport (here and here), that GLBT people are not welcome as members of their organisation, despite JCCV President John Searle saying that “racism and prejudice in all its evil forms will not be tolerated.”
This week the JCCV published a number of media releases. There was one on how they’re getting on well with the Catholic community, another on working with Victoria Police on combatting anti-semitic hate crimes, yet another on working with people with disabilities, and lastly one on welfare organisations in the community (mind you, not one of them openly advertises services supporting GLBT people).
I had trouble finding the JCCV media release on how they’re supportive of initiatives that combat homophobic intolerance in the Jewish community in this week of IDAHO. I tried to find one, but I just couldn’t see it. I guess they had it all prepared, but didn’t manage to get it out in time.
Now I’ll just have to wait until next year’s IDAHO to see if the big bad JCCV bully has learnt a lesson from the wider community and has realised it’s time to stop creating the hate and intolerance and start fighting it.
And lastly a message to John Searle. You talk about racism and prejudice in all its evil forms. Take a look in the mirror mate.
The AFL Players Association spoke out against homophobia in sport. Then the Western Bulldog’s Jason Akermanis made a contentious statement that gay sportsmen should not come out because it wouldn’t be safe for them. Thus ensued a lot of discussion in the mainstream and GLBT media regarding gay men and sport (start here).
It’s been said that the first person to come out will be in the media spotlight and there will be a lot of money to be made out of the story. Indeed.
At the same time as all of this speculation and discussion, we have in our midst two gay / gay friendly rugby teams – the Sydney Convicts and Melbourne Chargers. The relevance of this is that it shows gay men can play sport and they can play “a man’s game”.
I contend by corollary that if some gay men can play rugby, one form of football, then some gay men can also play any other form of football, such as soccer or AFL football. The rules, skills and equipment differ, but overall they’re still games of strategy, discipline, teamwork, brute force and man on man.
Based on the commonality of rugby and AFL football, I can envisage a situation where there would be some talented gay men in the community who could be recruited into a program to develop their skills sufficiently to bring them to a junior or senior competition level. Admittedly I am fairly naive on the politics and dealings of the footy world but in its simplicity it makes sense to me.
Rather than out the closeted gay men in AFL, the easier path would be to recruit gay men into existing AFL clubs. This would have the bonus of helping make the environment comfortable enough for closeted players to consider coming out. Bring the best men in to play the game, and make the game a friendlier and safer place for all. Everyone’s a winner.
On the International Day Against Homophobia, May 17 2010, Israel’s Minister of Education, Gideon Sa’ar, said there is no room for homophobia, according to the Really Israel blog.
”There is no place for homophobia. Differences are not a cause for concern. Differences are part of the fabric of our society”
The Australian Jewish community has remained silent for too long on homophobia. Whilst there are increasing numbers of young people in the community who are living openly as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, there is no mainstream support for same-sex attracted people and still no statement that intolerance of homosexuality is unacceptable.
Orthodox Judaism and other fundamentalist or extreme Jewish sects consider homosexuality incompatible with religious lifestyle. This intolerance has been proven to put same-sex attracted people, comprising about 10% of the population, at serious risk of suffering mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or self-harm, potentially leading to suicide.
What is needed are more leaders like Gideon Sa’ar, Tzipi Livni, Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that homophobia in the (Jewish) community is unacceptable and that our society must completely respect and accept people who are same-sex attracted, as they do anyone else.
The Australian Jewish community must take example from Israel on this important matter and speak out immediately against deeply rooted ignorance, hate and intolerance of homosexuality. Education is the key to success, and ultimately we’ll all be better off for it.