Chief condemns anti-gay abuse
THE CHIEF Rabbi has said homophobic graffiti daubed on a banner at a Jewish community centre is “unacceptable”.
An advertisement for the “GayW3” festival at JW3 in north-west London was defaced in the early hours of last Thursday morning.
The perpetrator, who was caught in the act by a security camera, scrawled the word “SHAME” on the poster.
The video of the incident has been passed on to the police.
Rabbi Mirvis said: “As I have made clear previously, homophobia is unacceptable and we must have zero tolerance for it.
“There is no excuse for vandalism. Seeking out conflict is divisive and destructive — nothing positive can come of agitating for public protest and disharmony.”
GayW3 is a fortnight-long festival looking at issues relating to being gay and Jewish. It features films and a cabaret evening.
In a Facebook post, Raymond Simonson, JW3 chief executive, said he was “saddened and disgusted” by the incident.
“We’ve had dozens of banners outside our building in the past couple of years” he wrote.
“None of them have been vandalised or damaged. The first time the word ‘gay’ goes up, we have our first experience of this kind of hate crime.”
Mr Simonson said he had added letters to the graffiti in order to change it to a positive message — “unashamed” rather than “shame”.
Speaking to the JC, Mr Simonson made it clear the centre had “no agenda” and was aimed at serving everyone in the community, no matter what their religious level.
He said: “If there’s something that people don’t like about other people’s lifestyles or what they do, it’s not the Jewish way to react with hatred or by stirring up intolerance.”
He added: “We’re not trying to convince anyone to change their opinions or beliefs or anything like that. We’re not promoting one kind of culture over another. We’re putting on programming, the diversity of which reflects the diversity of the community, and we expect people to be tolerant.”
In his Facebook post, Mr Simonson published a message which he said had been circulating online in Orthodox groups.
It referred to “GayW3” as a “terrible two week event under the banner of ‘Judaism’ in support of To’eva lifestyles.”
The word To’eva, used in the Bible to describe homosexuality, means “abomination.”
Mr Simonson said among the “hundreds” of messages of support the centre had received, there had also been many from the Orthodox community, which he described as “amazing”.
He said: “They might not come to a single event, and I totally respect that. But they sent messages of support saying that they don’t stand up for bullies.”
The daubed banner at JW3 in London