What ‘closed stacks’ for LGBT books at Hong Kong public libraries reveal about the city’s government
June 15 was a sad day for those who believe in equality, for on that day the Leisure and Cultural Services Department removed to the “closed stacks” of its libraries 10 children’s stories about diverse families (“ And Tango Makes Three among 10 children’s books with LGBT themes taken off the shelves in Hong Kong’s public libraries”, June 20).
They then even issued a statement that they adhered to the Unesco Public Libraries Manifesto and were “committed to safeguarding access to free information”. Seemingly, “safeguarding access” means hiding books.
For the record, Unesco states: “The services of the public library are provided on the basis of equality of access for all, regardless of age, race, sex, religion, nationality, language or social status.” Also: “Collections and services have to include all types of appropriate media [and] must reflect current trends and the evolution of society”.
The LCSD is also in breach of at least the spirit of published government policy, which has it that “all human beings are born equal” and that “government does not condone discrimination of any kind”.
We have all seen these stirring statements on posters at bus stops around the town. So what is the government’s response to a noisy minority group that wishes to put all LGBTI people back in the closet?
On June 15 we had the answer; they do what the homophobes ask them to do.
Can we be generous and put this down to harassed officials just wanting to get a bunch of irritants off their back? Alas, I do not think so.
What is really at the root of the problem with our government’s pandering to religious homophobes is that their sympathisers are ensconced in the administration, officials who think it is acceptable to spend public money building a concrete Noah’s Ark on Ma Wan or to appoint peddlers of “reparatory therapy” to teach human rights to public employees; who refuse support to the Gay Games but spend public money fighting to prevent a tiny number of their own citizens from marrying.
Instead of offering protection to the minorities suffering discrimination, our administration brazenly fosters that discrimination, and it has no shame.
Nigel Collett, Pok Fu Lam