A NUMBER of recommendations for tackling “discrimination, harassment and abuse” faced by members of Melbourne’s Jewish gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community have been put forward by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV).
In a report issued by a reference group comprising members of the JCCV executive, and the GLBT Jewish community, as well as representatives from Jewish Care and Australian Jewish Psychologists, concern was also expressed over the resultant mental-health issues those affected could experience, such as depression and suicide.
JCCV president John Searle said the study was the first of its kind, and that he hoped it would help improve foster tolerance and acceptance.
“We have recognised the need to deal openly with issues of vilification and discrimination in our community, and hope that this report will play a part in educating members of the community so as to reduce prejudice and incidence of mental health issues among our GLBT community members,” Searle told The AJN.
The report also identified challenges facing the Orthodox community, which it said must reconcile “the rulings of Jewish law with the need to ensure that all people are treated with compassion and acceptance”.
The report offers a number of recommendations, including increasing the level of education within schools, professional development programs for rabbis, and the adoption by all community organisations of a policy prohibiting discrimination and vilification based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.
Spokesperson for the transgender community, and a member of the JCCV reference group Sally Goldner, said the report had shed light on the challenges facing the Jewish GLBT community.
“The report has given us a really clear picture of where things are at, which we didn’t really know,” Goldner said.
“There was anecdotal evidence, but what this has done is put it into a succinct picture so we know where to move forward.”
Goldner described the dialogue between the GLBT community and the wider Jewish community as “pioneering”.
“The report is a great step, and if the things it recommends can happen in the next three years and we check and see further progress, I think that’s excellent.”
But there is still cause for concern according to Goldner, who said there were some disturbing findings.
“I was concerned that some rabbis still practised or recommended some form of aversion, or conversion therapy. That is disconcerting both objectively and as someone who has been through the psychological side of attempted conversion therapy. It’s a very frightening process, and I’m concerned that anyone would still think that might be possible.”
JCCV president John Searle said the study was the first of its kind.