ECAJ and Jewish GLBTI community critical of cartoon
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim has commented on The Australian’s cartoon depicting Nazi storm-troopers in a uniform decided the colours of the GLBTI movement.
Wertheim commented in a letter to The Australian: “It can be readily accepted that hyperbole is a stock in trade of any cartoonist, and Bill Leak is entitled to give satirical expression to his opinion that certain advocates of same sex marriage are intolerant to any contrary point of view. Yet to compare them to Nazi SS divisions does little credit to the point he was presumably trying to make.
To liken any advocate of same sex marriage to the perpetrators of mass murder and cruelty in the Nazi era is an inversion of history. In Nazi Germany homosexuality was a criminal offence. Approximately 100,000 suspected homosexuals were arrested and up to 15,000 of them were interned in concentration camps where many were tortured and killed.
As a political cartoonist, it is Bill Leak’s job to be provocative and controversial, but this was not his best work.”
The Convenor of Melbourne’s Aleph said: “On many levels it is disturbing to see a campaign to advance human rights being likened to part of the Nazi regime. In no way is there a comparison between the tactics deployed by the Waffen-SS and those who are advocating for equality.
Although both Jews and homosexuals were victims of the Nazis, few non-Jewish homosexual people would have a direct connection to the horrors of Nazi regime, yet many Jews do. For those of us who do, the memories are fresh and painful, often through stories of murdered relatives or families broken by the shattered lives of the survivors. The knowledge of my mother’s uncles families who were exterminated in Treblinka is a pain I feel very deeply.
For queer Jews, the hurt caused by calculated and insensitive cartoon imagery is amplified and very real. It affects us deeply, together with our families and friends.
Not so long ago it was illegal to be homosexual. Now it is not illegal but we are still denied equality before the law. People like Bill Leak, who exist in posititions of extreme privilege, appear incapable of understanding the impact of the discrimination we face every day, when the best they can do is vilify an entire group of people who simply want the same rights as everyone else.
Bill Leak has demonstrated extreme arrogance by depicting LGBTIQ people as collaborators in the worst type of evil possible. We have done nothing to deserve his abuse.
When attacks like this come in, every day, from a variety of places, it feels to me like death by a million cuts. Each attack hurts just a little more, and goes a little deeper. It’s no wonder so many LGBTIQ people experience higher-than-average rates of mental health issues. Now there’s a topic Bill Leak might like to explore.
My husband and I have been working in the activist space for many years and take a lot of abuse from those opposed to our relationship being treated with dignity and respect. This cartoon is an affront and attack on us. I’m deeply offended and I know that Gregory is hurt beyond belief that he has been depicted as a murdering Nazi for simply trying to have our marriage recognised in Australia.”