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Sydney Queer Muslims thank Jewish allies for support over Christchurch

Dawn Grace-Cohen
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Published: 26 March 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

THE SYDNEY QUEER MUSLIM community thanked their Jewish allies in a heartfelt address to the 25th Jewish LGBT World Congress Shabbat dinner hosted by Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies on Friday night.

“Our group held a vigil for Christchurch last week,” Nurul Tajularus, president of Sydney Queer Muslims, told the 110 people in the audience. “I was a bit scared, but when the allies turned up, I knew we would be safe.”

Ms Tajularus and her colleague Ahmed Suhaib were welcomed by Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. They shared a table with Trent Zimmerman, Federal Member for North Sydney, and Cr Peter Cavanagh, Mayor of Woollahra Municipal Council.

Ms Tajularus and Mr Suhaib were presented with a commemorative copy of Kol Koleinu (“All our voices”), by the president of the Jewish LGBT Congress, Dr Frank Giaoui. The book is a compendium of 65 Jewish LGBT narratives from 15 countries and includes chapters on Muslim and Jewish community bonds.

On Saturday night, Dr Kerryn Phelps received a standing ovation for her keynote address at the congress.

In a vivid account of Australian gay history, the Federal MP for Wentworth told 70 international and local attendees that Australians could be sentenced to life imprisonment for male homosexuality right up until the 1960s.

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Phelps, who swore on the Tanakh in her inauguration as Australia’s first gay Jewish MP, said the Dayenu float in the Sydney Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras in 2000 was ground-breaking, as was Australia’s first religious gay marriage when Jewish couple, Oscar Shub and Ilan Buchman wed at Emmanuel Synagogue 18 years later.

On her return to parliament next week, Phelps said she would oppose the push for religious freedom laws. “When I meet the Orthodox extreme who want the right to expel students who are gay or transgender, it breaks my heart,” she said.

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah, of Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue in England, and one of the world’s first lesbian rabbis, told Phelps not to give up on the capacity of the Orthodox Jewish community to care enough to change.

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Rabbi Sarah cited the release last year of an LGBT guide for the prevention of bullying in Orthodox schools by the Chief Rabbi of the UK, Ephraim Mirvis, as proof that the Orthodox community is progressing.

Main photo:From left, Ahmed Suhaib, Dr Frank Giaoui, Vic Lhadeff and Nurul Tajularus (Dawn Cohen)

About the author

Dawn Grace-Cohen

Dawn Grace-Cohen is a freelance journalist, clinical psychologist and long-time gay activist and marriage equality advocate. She is co-founder of Dayenu, Sydney’s Jewish LGBT group. She married her wife Robyn last year, bringing a 35-year engagement to a happy end.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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