Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
January 11 2013
Dear Committee Secretary,
I wish to clarify some potentially misleading information presented in submission #242 by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.
The ECAJ describes itself as “the officially elected representative organisation of the Australian Jewish Community and speaks on its behalf.”
If you review the ECAJ web-site (www.ecaj.org.au) you will see on the front page it lists its constituents and affiliates. These are the organisations and communities it represents. To help you understand this better, let me give you an example.
One of the constituents of the ECAJ is the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. The JCCV represents approximately 60 member organisations in the Victorian Jewish community. There are many organisations it does not represent, including a number of schools, synagogues and other organisations. The JCCV claims to be the voice of the Victorian Jewish community, yet it has no authority to be the speak on behalf of the organisations it does not actually represent. Similarly, the ECAJ has no authority to claim to represent those organisations, communities or citizens who are not affiliated with its constituents.
It is also important to understand that the ECAJ does not represent in any way the best interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Jewish community. The ECAJ, and its constituents have no formal GLBTI representation, and have never engaged in any formal consultation with the GLBTI community to understand and cater for the specific needs of this highly disadvantaged, marginalised and victimised minority section of its community.
In fact it is clear from the ECAJ submission to your committee that they believe GLBTI people should not have any protection under anti-discrimination legislation. The ECAJ also give tacit approval that same-sex couples should be denied the right to equality under the Marriage Act, which is further evidence that the ECAJ do not represent the interests of GLBTI people.
To this end you will have a better understanding that not only do the ECAJ not represent the entire Australian Jewish community, but they do not and cannot speak on its behalf. Further, I can state with absolute authority that the ECAJ do not speak on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Jewish community.
Finally, I would like to make it clear that it is imperative that anti-discrimination legislation afford full protection to people on the grounds of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex characteristics and sexual orientation.
I will be glad to assist in clarifying any of this information.