One of children’s books And Tango Makes Three depicts the story of a couple of male penguins in a New York zoo who adopt a young penguin chick while the other The White Swan Express looks at adoption including those of a lesbian couple.
At the behest of just one complaint to the National Library Board of Singapore by an anti-LGBTI Facebook group the board’s chief librarian went into a tizzy banning the books and replying with a “we take a cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors” message.
Now, nearly 5,000 people have signed an open letter and a petition calling for the books to be put back. They not only argue that the ban amounts to censorship and that the books are not against family values, reports bbc.com.
The thousands who have signed petitions to reverse the withdrawal and stop the pulping of the books can be viewed on the Twitter hashtag #FreeMyLibrary, according to scmp.com.
“I’m concerned that some other parent can decide on my behalf what is an “acceptable” or “unacceptable” idea for my child,” said Janice Koh, a nominated lawmaker in parliament and an advocate of LGBT-rights.
“What is questionable here is that the authorities have decided to pulp the books based on a complaint, with no further review or consideration for other points of view,” she told scmp.com.
While there has been overwhelming support for the books to be returned to the shelves, a few Singaporeans have sent in letters to newspaper editors in support for the library board’s actions.
While there has been much debate over the library board’s action, this is not the first time for Singapore to ban gay themed publications. The popular iconic Archies comic book has also been censured for tackling LGBT issues.
Archie: The Married Life that features a gay character in Riverdale named Kevin Keller, whose marriage in issue #16 of the single issues and appearing in Volume 3 of the trade editions was objected to by a conservative Christian group, according to allsingaporestuff.com.
Kinokuniya’s Book Catalog carried Vols 1, 2, 4 and 5 but not 3 saying that “Archie the Married Life 3″ is deemed to breach the Content Guidelines for Imported Publications, and removed from sale.
Gay rights are a contentious issue in Singapore, with many either wanting a retaining or abrogation of a British colonial-era “Section 377A” law that criminalizes sex between men with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
The Singapore government claims it does not actively enforce that ban.
Source: bbc.com; scmp.com; allsingaporestuff.com