JCCV condemns Rabbi Telsner’s Comments
By Bracha Rafael:
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has released a strong statement regarding Rabbi Telsner’s testimony before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Rabbi Telsner was asked to explain Rabbi Groner’s statement “I thought we had cured him,” referring to David Cyprus. Rabbi Groner is Rabbi Telsner’s predecessor at Yeshivah shule and father-in-law.
Having established that Rabbi Telsner considered it possible that a former child sex offender could be “in control of himself” (and thus safe to work amongst children), the line of questioning then turned to Rabbi Telsner’s attitudes towards homosexuality.
The questions pertaining to homosexuality and paedophilia are reprinted in full below. The entire transcript can be found here.
Q. Do you have the same belief about persons of homosexual orientation not attracted to children?
A. I really couldn’t tell you a definite answer. I don’t know.
Q. So you have distinct beliefs in respect to paedophiles and homosexual persons not attracted to children?
A. Well, there’s been so much talk about one – discussing about one and the other. I would rather – I wouldn’t want to say something I’m not so sure about.
Q. Well, the question was do you distinguish between those two classes of persons in your evidence as to whether a person can be cured by therapy. So the answer is, yes, you do distinguish?
A. I would say the same thing could happen to someone who was gay, I would suspect.
Q. So you think both those classes of persons can be “cured” by therapy?
A. There is a possibility. I’m not discounting that.
The JCCV has rejected the suggestion that homosexuals can be “cured” as “repulsive, ignorant and insulting.”
Further, Rabbi Telsner’s failure to distinguish between homosexuals and paedophiles have been condemned as “disturbing and toxic.”
“Those comments are poisonous to people of diverse sexual preference, their families and friends” says Jennifer Huppert, JCCV president.
The JCCV, along with 26 other Jewish community organisations, signed the No to Homophobia campaign in 2013.
It remains to be seen what conclusions, if any, the Royal Commission may come to regarding the safety of LGBTI youth within the Yeshivah community.