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Singapore: Libraries remove children’s books over gay characters

Alice Milliken July 10, 2014

Children’s books featuring lesbian and gay characters have been removed from libraries in Singapore.

The National Library Board (NLB) called for the withdraw of two children’s books after a complaint from a Facebook group opposed to Singapore’s annual LGBT festival.

Teo Kai Loon, from ‘We are Against Pinkdot’, wrote to the NLB to complain about ‘And Tango Makes Three’ a true story about two male penguins who raise an abandoned penguin chick together at the New York Zoo.

Loon also called for the removal of ‘The White Swan Express,’ which looks at the foreign adoption of Chinese babies into a variety of families including a single mother and a lesbian couple.

The NLB’s assistant chief executive and chief librarian, Tay Ai Cheng, wrote a response to Loon, which was posted on the Facebook page.

“Thank you for your email. I would like to assure you that NLB takes a strong pro-family stand in selecting books for children. We take a cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors. Besides going through the contents, we also refer to synopses, reviews and other books written by the authors.

“We have withdrawn the books Tango Makes Three and the White Swan Express following your feedback.

“We have a collection of more than five million books. While we try to sieve through the contents and exercise our best judgement, it is an arduous task to ensure complete adherence of details in the books to our pro-family stand. However, when library visitors like yourself highlight to us any conflicting content within books, we review such books thoroughly and withdraw them from circulation.”

Open letters from concerned citizens have been written to the NLB, calling the removal of the books “irresponsible and unfair to other library users and parents”. Multiple petitions have been circulated and signed through the internet asking for the return of the books to Library shelves.

The NLB has no plans to return the books to the shelves, there are suggestions the books will be destroyed.

More: Asia, children's books, lgbt literature, libraries, Singapore, Singapore

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