JCCV holds its first LGBTI Community Engagement Symposium
By David Marlow:
Understanding the human cost of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersex exclusion in the Jewish community.
In a milestone event for social inclusion in the Jewish community, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) held its first LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) Community Engagement Symposium on Sunday 23 August, attended by over 80 people.
Participants included Jews of diverse sexual orientation and gender diversity, as well as their families, health and educational professionals, Jewish LGBTI community organisations and representatives from Synagogues and youth groups, including Habonim, Netzer and AUJS.
Jennifer Huppert, President of the JCCV, thanked the members of Parliament who attended: Steve Dimopoulos MP, Member for Oakleigh; David Southwick MP, Member for Caulfield; Sam Hibbins MP, Member for Prahran, as well as the Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Rowena Allen.
Ms Huppert stated, “It is wonderful to see non-partisan support for social inclusion, and such a diversity of support for this Symposium from across the streams of Jewish tradition, including Orthodox, Conservative, Progressive and Secular.”
Speakers at the Symposium presented detailed research, as well as personal stories on mental health and other issues which affected Jews of diverse sexual orientation and gender diversity, arising from alienation, bullying, verbal and physical abuse, social exclusion and the effects of lack of support.
Presenters included Shaun Staunton, Beyond Blue, Dr Gavriel Ansara, LGBTI health expert, Sally Goldner, Executive Director of Transgender Victoria, Rebecca Forgasz, and JADE (Jews All Diverse and Equal) members Margot Fink and Sam Lilit.
The Symposium concluded with workshops exploring a range of issucomes, including Judaism and diversity, inclusive spaces in educational environments, what community organisations can do better, and what would we like from our rabbis.
Ms Huppert stated, “The Symposium was a triumph for diversity and community support for inclusion. Hopefully this is a start for all munities, not just ours.”
Ms Huppert thanked the Youth Affairs Councilfor their financial support of the JCCV LGBTI Community Engagement project which includes the Symposium, a video communication initiative, a youth video competition and other activities to foster a more inclusive community.
David Marlow is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.