Melbourne radio station J-AIR replaces program after homophobic broadcast

Melbourne’s Jewish radio station J-AIR have released the committee’s findings following an investigation of a homophobic broadcast earlier this year.

Airing on 30th March 2020, the Tamar Yonah Show featured Rabbi Mendel Kessin, who claimed COVID-19 was a “designer drug” sent by god to eradicate homosexuality.

Station President Dr. George Banky issued an official apology soon after the broadcast, addressing the LGBTIQ+ community.

“J-AIR has initiated its complaints procedure in line with ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) and CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) requirements,” Dr Banky said at the time.

“We have taken the podcast off line, and the complaints’ committee has started to review the show’s contents. The outcome of this process will be announced within 30 days, if not sooner. J-AIR is seeking an explanation from Tamar Yonah.”

“J-AIR is very aware of its role as a community broadcaster and strictly adheres to the laws of this country, particularly the ones referring to broadcasting as mandated by ACMA.”

“We apologise for causing offence to the gay community,” Dr Banky said.

Now, J-AIR’s committee have released the findings of their investigation, finding that Rabbi Kassin’s comments were “contrary to Australian law in that they vilified members of the homosexual (and LGBTIQ+) community.”

The report also outlined steps taken to address the issue, including the engagement of Jewish LGBTIQ+ advocate and spokesperson for Aleph Melbourne Michael Barnett, and a breakdown of where the apology had been published or broadcast.

Program host Tamar Yonah also provided comment to the committee.

“Israel News Talk Radio is an Israeli Jewish station based on Torah values. We have on a variety of guests including rabbis who express different opinions on current or historical/biblical issues.”

“Guests and listeners may, and do, hold very diverse views. Our live shows offer listeners to call in and agree, disagree, ask a question, or make a comment.”

“Live talk-radio is very dynamic and is not a closed forum, and knowing that people express very diverse views, we have a disclaimer on our site stating that the many different views and opinions expressed on INTR do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Israel News Talk Radio or its staff.”

The report also reveals that Yonah has asked for her show to be replaced, and that the J-AIR committee are in the process of finding a new program for the time slot.

Jewish LGBTIQ+ support organisation Aleph Melbourne have welcomed the decision.

“Aleph Melbourne is pleased to hear that J-AIR are reinforcing anti-vilification requirements to their presenters, and also that the station is replacing the problematic Tamar Yonah Show syndication with alternative content.”

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