Jewish members of the LGBT community face discrimination, harassment and abuse because of their sexuality or gender identity, a new report has found.

The report, released this week, was commissioned by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and shows a link between mental health issues, such as depression and suicide, and discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.

JCCV president John Searle said it’s the first time the JCCV has looked into the issue.

“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 to reduce prejudice and incidence of mental health issues amongst our GLBT community members,” he said.

The report has called on Jewish community organisations to develop policies prohibiting discrimination and recommends Jewish schools and rabbis educate themselves on issues facing LGBT people in the Jewish community.
Gay Jewish support group Alpeh convenor Michael Barnett told the Star Observer the report was “a conversation point” but was not groundbreaking.

“This stuff is out there, but what it does do, is it puts it in context of the Jewish community,” he said.

Barnett, however, said the report fails to tackle the issue of Jewish law, which prohibits homosexual behaviour.

“There’s no point saying we want you to do this and then leaving it at that, because [the JCCV] have no authority over any other organisation in the community and they can’t enforce anything,” he said.

“They need to say, if you want to be part of our organisation, if you want to come under our umbrella, we want you to support LGBT people in the community and provide the resources to support them and their families as required.”

JCCV GLBT Reference Group member Sally Goldner rejected criticism the report would not have an impact.

“People who seemed poles apart were able to sit down and get some understanding of what needs to happen and start building trust, which I think is very worthwhile,” Goldner told the Star Observer.

“Some Orthodox rabbis still believe that homosexuality is a disease and from that point of view homosexuality could be cured.

“That’s obviously very disconcerting that, whatever their beliefs are, they might hold those ideas which are not part of their religion … so that’s something that could be improved.”