Sydney’s Cumberland Council Has Reversed Their LGBTQI+ Book Ban

This story originally appeared on City Hub – read it here. 

After four hours of heated debate and protestor clashes on Wednesday night, the Cumberland City Council’s same-sex parenting book ban has been overturned.

The western Sydney council faced national and global outcry for banning the bookSame-Sex Parenting by Holly Duhig. The book, aimed at describing diverse family structures for a younger audience, depicts two men and a child on the cover.

Council was debating Labor councillor Kun Huang’s motion not to ban the book but to instead move it to the junior non-fiction section.

The motion was passed 12-2 at 10:45pm on Wednesday night.

Councillor Mohamad Hussein, who had originally supported the ban, changed his vote at the last minute.

Only Cr Eddy Sarkis supported Cr Steve Christou, who had originally brought forward the motion to ban the book.

Protests outside

As the council fiercely debated the controversial ban on a book about same-sex parenting, protestors clashed outside the council chambers in Merrylands on Wednesday night.

Rallying for LGBTQ rights, Pride in Protest organised the demonstration, which was countered by a large group in support of the book ban. More than 200 people were gathered outside the council.

A heavy police presence kept the two groups apart, resulting in a tense standoff that lasted for hours.

“Together we stand, together we fight, we demand our equal rights,” chanted the group against the book ban.

Signs read, “You don’t like a book…Put it down”, “Hate is not a family value”, and “Let the readers pick up the books, and the council pick up the bins.”

Compared to the constant chanting of the Pride in Protest-organised rally, the other side were quieter, holding signs and crosses. Some yelled intermittently through a megaphone, “Leave our kids alone”. At one point, members of the rally began banging rhythmically on a sign as they chanted.

Many jeered and waved at the other group, yelling “Piss off back to Newtown. We live here.”

About 50 minutes into the protest, cheering from those against the book ban reached a climax as someone walked to the group with an LGBTQ flag. The boos of those who supported the book ban also reached its heights.

10 minutes later, the pro-book ban group began playing “Who let the dogs out.”

The council faced significant backlash following the decision to pull same-sex parenting books from library shelves on May 1.

As of May 15, more than 50,000 have signed petitions calling on council to reverse the ban.

Pride in Protest were demanding that:
– Cumberland City Council rescind the bans on books depicting same-sex parenting and drag queens reading story books in libraries.
– Chris Minns and NSW Labor expel Labor council members who have caused these bans.
– NSW Labor pass the Equality Bill in full.

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