Singapore halts destruction of gay-themed children's books

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 July, 2014, 11:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 July, 2014, 11:22pm


Singapore yesterday stopped its national library from destroying two children's books with gay themes following an outcry over literary censorship in city-state.

Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered the books moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children, after another title had already been pulped by the National Library Board.

"We stand by NLB's decision to remove the three books from the children's section," Yaacob said on Facebook, adding that the board "will continue to ensure that books in the children's section are age-appropriate".

Singapore has separately banned a volume of the long-running US comics series Archie because its depiction of a marriage between two men was deemed to breach local "social norms".

Government officials claim that most Singaporeans are conservative and do not accept homosexuality.

The two books to be moved to the adult section of public libraries are And Tango Makes Three - a true story about two male penguins in a New York zoo that raised a baby penguin - and The White Swan Express, which features children adopted by straight, gay, mixed-race and single parents.

The book that has already been destroyed is Who's In My Family, which discusses different types of families, including references to gay couples.

Around 400 people including parents gathered at a library branch last weekend to read the banned books to their children as a show of protest.

Sex between men is illegal in Singapore and punishable by up to two years in jail under a law dating back to British colonial rule. The government has refused to rescind the legislation, but it is not actively enforced.