A national queer multicultural group has spoken out over recent claims Australian Jewish community leaders are not doing enough to challenge anti-gay sentiment.
Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC) president Alyena Mohummadally said the group had been made aware of a recent campaign by Melbourne Jewish gay support group Aleph to combat homophobia.
“It is appalling that a community that has suffered persecution would ignore the cries of their own people,” Mohummadally said.
“The AGMC hopes the leaders of the Jewish community in Australia will come forward to say that discrimination, hatred and prejudice have no place in the Jewish community.”
The discussion around homophobia in Melbourne’s Jewish community has widened recently with a flurry of letter-writing and internet-posting.
Aleph convenor Michael Barnett has levelled anger at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for not doing more to counter anti-gay sentiment in Orthodox circles.
In a letter to JCCV president John Searle, Barnett said greater leadership needed to be taken when anti-gay sentiment arose.
Searle, however, insists the JCCV has made every effort to include Aleph and the gay community.
“I am committed to ensuring vilification of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (Jews and non-Jews alike), and other minority groups is combated,” Searle wrote to Barnett in a letter dated August 24.
“The [JCCV] Executive is committed to including not only Aleph but other members of the GLBT community in our activities.”
Barnett said Searle’s reassurance is not enough. “I’ve heard enough lip service from the community leaders and demand action,” he wrote to Searle on August 25.
“The policy statements of every Jewish peak body in the country must include an unambiguous statement on homophobic hate and intolerance and the same zero-tolerance afforded to antisemitism must be bestowed on these anti-homophohia policies.
“The community must then uphold these policies accordingly and speak out and act fast when homophobic intolerance arises.”

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