Western Sydney Council's Bans Same-Sex Parenting Books

Cumberland City Council in Western Sydney has enacted a controversial policy to remove books featuring same-sex parents from its libraries, triggering a fierce debate over censorship, discrimination, and community values. 
FUSE  |  Australian News
Western Sydney Council's Bans Same-Sex Parenting Books

Initiated by former mayor and current councillor Steve Christou, the policy was adopted following a council vote that split narrowly in favor, with six councillors supporting the ban and five opposing it, while four were absent.

Christou argued that the presence of these books in libraries, specifically citing "Same-Sex Parents" by Holly Duhig, was distressing to some parents and inappropriate for children, stating

"Our kids shouldn't be sexualised... This community is a very religious community, a very family-orientated community. They don't want such controversial issues going against their beliefs indoctrinated to their libraries."

The ban has been criticiseds by several parties, including local MP Lynda Voltz and NSW Arts Minister John Graham, for potentially violating the state's Anti-Discrimination Act and for engaging in what they describe as censorship. Voltz expressed concern that the decision could jeopardise the council's library funding and its compliance with anti-discrimination guidelines.

 Meanwhile, Graham highlighted the broader implications of such actions, remarking, "When civilisations turn to burning books or banning books it is a very bad sign. 

That is equally true for local councils. It is up to readers to choose which book to take off the shelf. It should not be up to local councillors to make that choice for them or engage in censorship."

Mayor Lisa Lake and Councillor Diane Colman were among the council members who opposed the motion. 

Lake voiced her disappointment and sadness over the decision, emphasising the council's commitment to fostering an inclusive community where "as long as parents are loving families, that's what's important." Colman criticised the decision for its potential to alienate segments of the community and restrict access to information, stating, "Cumberland city council's motto is 'welcome, belong, succeed' – that means everyone is welcome, everyone belongs. Bans like this indicate some people believe that isn't the case."

Equality Australia's legal director Ghassan Kassisieh strongly condemned the ban, emphasising the emotional toll it could have on children with same-sex parents. He argued that books reflecting their realities are not just informative, but crucial for fostering an inclusive atmosphere in public libraries. He stated, "Providing the children of same-sex couples with books that reflect their everyday lives is part of ensuring public libraries are inclusive and welcoming places for everyone."

Rainbow Families, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ families, has reportedly reached out to the anti-discrimination board to challenge the council's decision, highlighting an increase in discriminatory attitudes and actions over the past year, as noted by their executive officer, Ashley Scott.

This divisive policy has ignited a significant backlash, with opponents questioning its legality and appropriateness in a society known for its cultural diversity and tolerance. The debate continues as the community and legal experts consider the potential impacts and seek pathways to reverse the ban.


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