The JCCV releases a report!


The JCCV is a curious umbrella organistation for Jewish organisations in Melbourne.  Back in December 2009 they formed a reference group to look at discrimination and vilification of people who are gay within the Jewish community in Melbourne.  I’d suggest that they care more about their religion than they do about people being vilified.

Well, the reference group has at last produced a report, of sorts.  The JCCV announced it on their website – the media release says:

The JCCV aims to distribute the report as widely as possible.

Yet there is no way to get the report from their website.  The link provided seems to just download a PDF of the media release.  I’m sure it’s just an oversight on their part and one they’ll fix shortly.

So, off to J-Wire, that site reprints the whole report.

For a brief moment, I thought that at last, they had seen the damage that religion can do to people.  In particular, the damage that is done by allowing vilification of someone based on their identity, sexual, gender or otherwise.  The reason people find it acceptable to vilify ‘the gays’ is because it’s written into the ancient texts.  Plain as the ink on the page.  It follows to address the ongoing vilification and rejection of people who are gay you need to address that very first issue.

The reference group recognised that Jewish Halacha1 prohibits gay sexual behaviour and, according to orthodox rabbinic interpretation, lesbian sexual behaviour. The reference group recognised that it does not have the power to change Halacha and therefore confined itself to issues involving discrimination, vilification and mental health issues. It was hoped in this way the reference group could produce a useful report for the community.

Nicely side-stepped.  The only reason there is discrimination, vilification and therefore mental health issues is because some nutter somewhere wrote it down in a book and that book is the source of all discrimination and vilification that permeates throughout the western world (and increasingly in African nations).  To simply try to side-step it is wrong.  It is the root cause.  Shrugging your shoulders and pretending that nothing can be done is just fool-hardy.

As an umbrella organisation they represent many different versions of Judaism, their membership is made up of orthodox, progressive and conservative religious groups as well as some secular groups.  It’s puzzling as to why they only accept the orthodox version of homosexuality as being wrong when they have such a diverse membership base.  For many of the other JCCV constituents, homosexuality is simply not an issue, in fact some of them go so far as to embrace homosexuality as part of the normal fabric of life.   It doesn’t seem to me that they are truly being representative when the orthodox position is taken as the default by the JCCV.

The report makes no mention of the Union of Progressive Judaism’s great work in accepting people from all walks of life. Somehow the UPJ seem to have worked their way around the silly ancient texts and were able to issue a statement on gender and sexual equality, making it clear that you can’t treat some people as different based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I waded my way through the many lines in the report and found nothing that you couldn’t guess all by yourself or that isn’t already generally available.  There’s a list of recommendations at the bottom of the report.  Broken into three sections. Recommendations for schools, rabbis and community organisations.  There’s no mention of anything that the JCCV itself will undertake to further promote these recommendations.  In fact, any course of action is sadly lacking.

Look at these recommendations under the community organisations:

All community organisations should adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination and vilification based on a person‟s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Should?  How about connecting the policy with membership of the JCCV?
Community Organisations should provide training for their staff and facilitate education for their members and volunteers relating to these issues.
Should?  How about connecting the training with membership of the JCCV?
Jewish Community Libraries should incorporate texts, DVDs and other resource material relevant to Jewish GLBT and gender identity issues to ensure there are sufficient resources for members of the community who are seeking education or appropriate reading/viewing material in this area.
Should?  How about removing any offensive materials that are anti-gay?
Community organisations, particularly synagogues and/or rabbinical associations could facilitate trips to Australia by Rabbis or educators who can speak on the issues facing members of our GLBT community, particularly those in the Orthodox community.
Ok…. because there’s not enough experts here in Australia?  Or overseas Rabbis know better?
Community support organisations ensure they are kept up to date with the latest research and developments and have in place adequate support services for the Jewish GLBT community. It is also necessary that members of the Jewish GLBT community are made fully aware of these services.
At last, something that is more action orientated, ‘ensure’ and ‘have in place’.  But alas, no mention of the role the JCCV might play in ensuring that community support organisations have this in place.

It would have been good if they would adopt the Llama Recommendations:

  1. That a Jewish support group for the GLBT community be established as part of the JCCV (Suggestion: Aleph Melbourne)
  2. That that support group become a full member of the JCCV
  3. That a JCCV working group be established to work with schools, Rabbis and community organisations to assist in monitoring and providing resources to ensure they work towards the recommendation as suggested
  4. That the JCCV works to breaking down the barriers established by Jewish Halacha.
  5. That the JCCV calls for full equality in marriage under Australian Law

The whole process was so promising.  It falls down dramatically in the last recommendation.

It is strongly recommended that a review be performed within 3 years to ascertain the extent to which the recommendations contained in this report have been adopted and the impact that has been affected within our community.

So, nothing happens for the next 3 years?  The schools, rabbis and community organisations go about their business with no need to report or any system to monitor or get assistance.

The whole reference group experiment had such promise to actually take on discrimination and vilification and offer some concrete ways to combat it.  Instead the JCCV has delivered what appears a rushed and badly produced set of recommendations published on a long weekend in the dying days of the presidency of John Searle.


  1. Often translated as Jewish Law, but you really should read this article on Wikipedia to gain a full understanding of the implications of Halacha
This entry was posted in religion.

One Response to The JCCV releases a report!

  1. Pingback: The JCCV releases a report! | Bruce Llama | Aleph Melbourne