It’s apparent that the Jewish Community Council of Victoria is pandering to the sensitivities of its Orthodox constituents when it comes to tackling the uncomfortable issue of homosexuality.
Compare the radically different approaches it has adopted regarding youth alcohol abuse and the extremely vague problem of “issues affecting GLBT people”.
With the former, it has obtained government funding, trotted out respected academic research and is dealing with it like it is the most pressing issue on the planet. Refer to the latest JCCV media release “YAP begins a new DAY”:
Current research shows that the rate of drinking at harmful levels by 12-17 year olds has doubled in the past decade. Research undertaken by the Victorian Drug and Alcohol Prevention Council has found that 90% of young people have tried alcohol by age 15.
And, there’s not a single rabbi in sight, despite much of this alcohol abuse occurring due to exuberant religious celebration.
Compare this with the uncomfortable problem of “issues affecting GLBT people”. The JCCV has trotted out an Orthodox rabbi, apparently an authority on all matters homosexual, whose most useful piece of advice is that GLBT organisations cannot be members of the JCCV as they will fracture the community.
The JCCV has been briefed by Associate Professor Anne Mitchell, a respected Australian academic on relevant issues of human sexuality, yet the JCCV have not published a single reference to an iota of credible research on the matter. Examples of the research they have not yet quoted include:
Studies conducted over the last decade reveal that GLB individuals attempt suicide at rates between 3.5 and 14 times those of their heterosexual peers
Those belonging to religious faiths that promulgate negative discourses about homosexuality are particularly vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. Conflicts between spiritual or religious beliefs and sexuality can result in significant psychological dissonance as well as division and exclusion from family, friends and community.
Why is it necessary for the JCCV to engage an Orthodox rabbi in order to address serious issues like homophobic bullying in schools, mental health issues, self-esteem and suicide, but not for the issue of youth alcohol abuse? Is there no cause for concern that the exuberant religious celebrations might be the catalyst for the binge drinking? Perhaps it’s necessary to bring in the rabbis and suggest they should sermonise on the community tempering celebrations a little if they are going to result in youth alcohol abuse.
So far the only thing the JCCV has achieved in dealing with “the issues that affect GLBT people” by bringing in an Orthodox rabbi is to demonstrate blatant homophobia and further exacerbate the problems they are reluctant to identify and address.
If the JCCV is at all serious about tackling the issues that are affecting GLBT people, such as bullying, marginalisation, invisibility, homophobia, intolerance, mental health issues and suicide, then they must understand the academic research, refer to the academic research and avoid Orthodox rabbis. The Orthodox dogma is the cause of many of the problems, and will never be helpful in finding a solution to these problems.