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A Sydney council banned same-sex parent books from its libraries

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Cumberland Council has banned a books on same-sex parenting across its libraries, as the NSW Government considers reducing council funding.
A Sydney council has banned a books on same-sex parenting across its libraries.

A Western Sydney Council has voted to remove material about same-sex parenting from its library shelves.

The motion was led by Cumberland City Councillor Steve Christou, who claims he received multiple complaints about a local library book on same-sex parenting.

Christou, a former mayor, argued the book goes against his community’s “religious beliefs and family values”.

The NSW Government has now threatened to reduce its funding for libraries in the area, as a Sydney woman urges the local council to reverse the same-sex book ban.

Cumberland

Cumberland is the local city council for suburbs including Granville and Regents Park.

Two-thirds of the community speaks a language other than English at home, with a total of 67 languages spoken across Cumberland.

40% of the community identifies as Christian.

Book ban

Local councillor Steve Christou called for a vote to strip Cumberland’s eight libraries of “same-sex parents books/materials”.

Christou said he received complaints from parents about ‘Same Sex Parents’ by Holly Duhig, a book in the children’s section of a local library.

“Our kids shouldn’t be exposed to sexualised behaviour through same-sex parents books,” Christou said.

The ban passed in a 6-5 vote.

Opposition

Five councillors voted against the ban, including Cumberland’s Labor Mayor Lisa Lake.

Labor Councillor Diane Colman voted against her colleagues. She likened the ban to “old-fashioned book burning”.

“I’m totally against this attempt at censorship,” Colman added.

NSW Government

NSW Arts Minister John Graham told TDA he has written to the Council as the State Government considers withdrawing financial support for Cumberland’s libraries.

“It is up to readers which book they choose from the shelf. It should not be up to local councillors to make that choice for them,” Graham said.

He has instead urged councillors to focus on essential local services like bins and potholes, rather than “acting as self-appointed censors”.

Local petition

Cumberland local Caroline Staples – who describes herself as a “proud grandmother to a rainbow family” – has launched a petition demanding the Council reverse the book ban.

“Here in Western Sydney, we welcome people of different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures,” she said.

“The council motion has made me fear for the safety of the rainbow families in our community.”

Staples will present the petition to the Council next week.

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