Religion no excuse for prejudice

Religion no excuse for prejudice

Apparently a program to stop homophobic bullying in schools is a bad thing. Who would have thought?

Thankfully, not everyone shares the views of Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen who has penned a particularly repellent piece for the Australian Family Association (AFA) claiming anti-homophobic bullying program Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) is ‘coercing’ schools to accept homosexuality as a normal part of life. Because that wouldn’t be right, would it?

I’m sure this might come as a shock to Rabbi Cowen but not everyone is beholden to beliefs formed thousands of years ago. Or, quelle horreur, believes in God, or what such a deity might have to say about who people fall in love with.

His diatribe is not entirely surprising — a glance at the AFA’s list of patrons sees the charming Margaret Court at the top.

It seems Cowen is terrified that students learning to treat same-sex attracted students with dignity and respect will lead them down a one-way road to G.A.Y.

Cowen claims the program forces children to prematurely identify and confirm their sexual orientation, thus forcing unwanted gayness upon them. What nonsense. What he fails to address is the real harm same-sex attracted young people face at the hands of playground bullies.

It’s no coincidence that 2010 La Trobe University research suggests up to 80 percent of homophobic abuse experienced by young people occurs in schools.

Further, that 61 percent of same-sex attracted or gender-questioning young people in Australia experience verbal homophobic abuse, 18 percent experience physical homophobic abuse, and 26 percent other forms of homophobia. Suicide rates among same-sex attracted young people are said to be three times higher — and up to six times higher in rural and regional areas — than their straight counterparts.

The SSCV program doesn’t trick people into becoming same-sex attracted. What it does is create a safe environment for those young people struggling with their identity because they are told they are an abomination, not equal, unnatural.

A great deal of this is coming from religion itself.

Rabbi Cowen is allowed to believe what he likes about homosexuality and what his faith has to say about it. But his moral compass is his own. If his piece proves anything, it’s the importance of separating state and religion when addressing programs like these.

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5 responses to “Religion no excuse for prejudice”

  1. So, “Secularjohn” says Rabbi Cowen should ask his mother if she is a bigot, and he gets four “likes” to boot. What a disrespectful comment and shame on those who share his views.

  2. Religiously speaking, in the Messianic Age, there will be no laws governing homosexuality and it will have free reign. It is a reality conservatives, like Rabbi Cowen, will concede.

  3. At the end of his nasty article, Rabbi Cowen is described as having an institutional affiliation with Monash University.

    However, I understand that Monash University denies that such affiliation existed at the time the article appeared.

    I suspect that the Rabbi was not being altogether truthful in his self-description. Given the content of his article, such lack of truthfulness (if this is what it is) is no surprise.

  4. […] Religion no excuse for prejudice | Star Online. Share this:EmailPrintFacebook This entry was posted in GLBT, Jewish, Youth and tagged Andie Noonan, Australian Family Association, Bullying, Gay, GLBT, God, Homophobia, Lesbian, Prejudice, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, Religion, Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, Star Observer. Bookmark the permalink. ← Statement from Monash University Faculty of Education Members Against Homophobia […]

  5. Rabbi Shimon Cowen’s father, the late Australian Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen, would not be proud of his son’s homophobic non-inclusive attitudes.
    I doubt whether his mother Lady (Anna) Cowen would share his narrow-mindedness either. As she is still alive, perhaps he could ask her if she is a bigot also?