Michael Barnett OAM: an open letter from tireless campaigner


michael barnett
Image: Gregory Storer Facebook

Campaigner and advocate Michael Barnett OAM this week penned an open letter to the Australian LGBTIQA+ community. The tireless activist pleaded for LGBTIQA+ Aussies to avoid intolerance of all kinds.

“Together we stand,” wrote Michael Barnett, “Divided we fall.”

Michael Barnett OAM

Raised and educated in a more Orthodox tradition of Judaism, Michael Barnett began campaigning decades ago to ensure the Jewish community offered a welcome to people of all genders and orientations.

His Order of Australia Medal, awarded in the 2023 Australia Day Honours List, recognises almost 30 years of relentless advocacy.

An open letter to the Australian LGBTIQA+ community

Aleph Melbourne was established in 1995 to provide a safe place for gay and bisexual Jewish men in Melbourne. Since then we have expanded to include LGBTIQA+ people, families, and allies.

In all the years of the group’s existence, we have lived in relative harmony with the wider LGBTIQA+ community.

However in recent weeks, since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas and the ensuing war, many of our members, their family members, and their friends contacted me regarding reports of feeling unsafe in the LGBTIQA+ community.

Feeling unsafe in LGBTIQA+ venues

These people reported being scared of presenting as Jewish in public and on social media. There have been reports of antisemitism and calls for boycotting Jewish organisations by LGBTIQA+ people. Also reports of people feeling unsafe in LGBTIQA+ venues.

Aleph Melbourne’s purpose has always been to stand up for LGBTIQA+ people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Now I am finding I need to support our members based on their Jewish identity. This takes a personal toll on me, as it means I need to spend many more hours of personal time fighting a different sort of intolerance.

I ask you, my friends, my community members, and the leaders of the LGBTIQA+ community, to think of the ramifications of taking sides, especially when it has a direct impact on the very people you care most about.

If LGBTIQA+ people are hurting in Melbourne or elsewhere in Australia because of antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any sort of intolerance, then we are no longer a cohesive community. Together we stand. Divided we fall.

Please think hard before you take any side. Especially if it’s going to cause division amongst your peers, friends, family (chosen or otherwise), or community.

Michael Barnett OAM
Co-Convenor, Aleph Melbourne.

Also:

LGBT+ advocates, including Michael, recognised with Order of Australia.

Outcry over Melbourne vandal’s sick homophobic, Nazi graffiti.

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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1 Comment

  1. Adamm Ferrier
    11 December 2023
    Reply

    No one defends the loss of life that occurred on October 7 due to the Hamas attack, and our collective hearts go out to ALL people affected by this terrible situation.

    The conflation of faith with politics is deadly because fundamentalism of any type – be it Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu and so on – is inherently intolerant of others, often used to justify atrocities whilst playing the victim. One of the challenges is the binary position often taken when exploring current issues: even mild criticism of actions taken by the state of Israel is conflated with antisemitism.

    As for taking a side? Like Michael, I am on the side of humanity.

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