Jewish gay group splintering

Jewish gay group splintering

A growing rift in Melbourne’s Jewish gay community saw a war of words via email last week with members of gay Jewish support group Aleph accusing current convenor Michael Barnett for being too hostile towards the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV).

Barnett told Southern Star he would not comment on the inner workings of Aleph or discuss any leadership challenge. He said he sent emails criticising the JCCV because he believes they are ignoring “intolerant” views on homosexuality in the Jewish community.

“Until the JCCV acknowledges that the real issue is religious intolerance from Orthodox Judaism, they won’t actually make any progress,” he said.

In a public letter to JCCV president John Searle, Barnett describes the JCCV as “the most shameful, leaderless organisation in the Victorian Jewish community”, and accused the organisation of taking a “wanton” approach to tackling homophobia.

Southern Star reported last September on growing discord between Aleph and the JCCV over what Barnett said was a failure by Searle to publicly denounce homophobia. His comments were sparked by the 2009 murder of two people at a Tel Aviv gay and lesbian youth centre. Since then the relationship between the two has progressively soured and Barnett has now been criticised by his own members for sending hostile group emails.

An Aleph member who asked not to be named told Southern Star other members of the 80-strong group had been “embarrassed” by Barnett’s constant “angry” emails and the group is now discussing ways to establish a new executive committee which may or may not include Barnett.

The JCCV set up a Jewish GLBT reference group late last year to tackle homophobia and transphobia in the Jewish community, however, it excluded Aleph.

The JCCV said they have “tried hard” with Barnett, however, his approach had been too aggressive and he misunderstood the “politics” involved.

Jewish GLBT reference group member Sally Goldner told Southern Star she thought Barnett had done a “great job” in the past of discussing homophobia in the Jewish community, however, his current “negative” style was not productive.

“I understand Michael’s angry about this, but you’ve got to calm down and be more constructive,” she said. “I think it is possible to reach an understanding.”

The JCCV last week announced community group Jewish Care and the Australian Jewish Psychologists Group would be represented on the GLBT reference group.

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6 responses to “Jewish gay group splintering”

  1. B’H
    What is your definition of “same sex youth” Michael Barnett? I thought we were either male or female? You are a pretty good example of what bullying is about and you do the gay community no favours by your anti-heterosexual attacks and your anti Orthodox Judaism stance.
    Who cares about the mainstream? Well I guess the majority in society do. We do have rights too, you understand I hope, to an opinion. What we don’t have a right to do is to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexuality, religion, gender politics and culture in getting
    a) housing
    b) employment
    c) entry into venues and functions
    d) citizenship of a country
    e) enjoyment and quality of life
    f) health care
    We do have a right to disagree with you on how to live our lives and to protect children against predators who are either heterosexual or homosexual.

  2. Wrong!!! Don’t calm down! Who needs a modicum of respect when none is given from others? And strangely enough, Michael Barnett has a great deal of respect from many gay and Jewish people. What is mainstream and who worries about mainstream? Do they have any concerns about the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH) communities? Does the Rudd government support our communities? No – they are homophobic to the same degree as the Opposition and it is this homophobia we have to fight – all day, every day and in every way! Have you heard Rudd talking to the GLTH communities? I don’t think so!!

    We fight for equality and what do we get? Elder abuse from this government which is giving us “equality” by virtue of doing away with discrimination in 83 pieces of legislation. But what about the other items of discrimination against the most vulnerable in our communities – isolated young gays, isolated and desperate older members of the GLTH communities whose pensions are reduced because the government is giving us “equality” as de factos but not “equality” in terms of marriage rights. Not to mention outing of elderly people – by Centrelink – who have lived in closets for most of their lives because of the homophobia of our “liberal” societies?

    Hypocrisy and homophobia is what we are left with!!

  3. MIchael Barnett is another one of those angry gays who think that belligerence and bullying is the way to get things done. No wonder most people want nothing to do with him anymore. My mother always used to say: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar
    Yes Michael…Calm down and you might regain a modicum of respect. Something you don’t have in either the gay, Jewish or mainstream communities at the moment.

  4. Of course Michael must continue to speak out – youth suicides in the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities continue to be a national disgrace – organisations such as beyondblue continue to be a national disgrace, and our communities should be very angry at the silences surrounding the topic.
    And of course it is not just the young who are committing suicide – it is now increasingly older, isolated members of these communities who have no support systems who are at great risk. No one has the right to tell Michael he should calm down, nor should the rest of us who are angry about the situation calm down either!

  5. Same-sex youth are out there suffering because of the shame they feel and hurt and intolernace they are experiencing. Some are suicidal. No one else is speaking out on their behalf and I