ECAJ President Anton Block responds to RCV statement

Statement by Anton Block, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry

The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Anton Block, has rejected as “alarmist” suggestions that an amendment to the definition of marriage in Australian civil law will in some way open the door to a future infringement of the religious freedoms of those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage.  He was commenting on a controversial statement issued by the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) urging Australians to vote “No” to proposed reforms to Australia’s marriage laws that would recognise same sex marriages.

“The RCV statement was issued without proper thought or understanding of the way Australia’s Constitution and legal system work”, Mr Block said.  “There is no basis for believing that a change to the civil law definition of marriage would be a potential threat to the rights and freedoms of religious institutions and leaders to conduct religious marriages or to affirm religious teachings about marriage.  Religious marriages are outside the scope of the Marriage Act, which relates only to civil marriages.   It is alarmist to suggest otherwise, and wrong for the RCV to use its authority in religious matters in this way.”

Mr Block added: “All people are entitled to have their dignity respected, regardless of their ethnicity, religious affiliations and beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, or any disability.”

The President of the RCV and at least six other rabbis who are members of the RCV have since dissociated themselves from the RCV statement.