On July 27 2011 I had a conversation with Manny Waks, then president of the Canberra Jewish Community and a Vice President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, in which he agreed to sponsor a motion at the 2011 AGM of the ECAJ promoting greater respect of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Australia’s Jewish community.
Four months later, on November 27 2011, the following resolution was unanimously passed at the ECAJ AGM:
Policy on counteracting hatred and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons
RECOGNISES that the Australian Jewish community is part of the Jewish people worldwide, with a shared history, culture and religious tradition is at the same time diverse and pluralistic, with its members holding different views on a range of issues;
CALLS FOR mutual respect for the human dignity of all members of the community, despite any strongly held differences; recognition that disagreement is possible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views; and avoidance of any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity; and, in accordance with the aforesaid principles;
OPPOSES any form of hatred of any person on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;
ACKNOWLEDGES that there is still much work to be done to remove intolerance of and unlawful discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the Jewish community and the wider Australian community, and to provide adequate services and support for them and their families; and
CALLS ON persons and organisations in the Jewish community to support that work both in our community and in the wider Australian community.
This motion passed by the ECAJ joins similar motions passed by the Victorian, New South Wales and ACT Jewish communities. Whilst time will tell how effective these motions will be in helping provide a safer and more tolerant place for GLBT Australians, I am confident that this milestone in the history of Australian Jewry will help pave the way to a greater understanding, acceptance and inclusion of GLBT people.