Singapore library will destroy LGBT-friendly kids' books at behest of bigot

Singapore's National Library Board will pulp three LGBT-friendly children's picture books that it earlier removed from its collections.

The libraries, guided by a national policy that officially discriminates against LGBT people, plan to destroy three titles: "And Tango Makes Three" (the true story of two male penguins at a zoo who adopted a penguin chick), "The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption" (about Chinese orphans being adopted by a mix of straight, gay and single parents), and "Who's In My Family: All About Our Families" (which portrays many kinds of families, including gay ones).

The library's official statement says that the books -- all acclaimed titles loved by children around the world -- were not "age appropriate" and made unhelpful noises about the state's official position on families: "NLB's understanding of family is consistent with that of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education."

The libraries removed their copies at the behest of a single complaining patron, Teo Kai Loon, a homophobic activist. Thousands of patrons have called for their reinstatement.

In supposedly two days, NLB responded to Teo’s e-mail complaint, stating that the books have been withdrawn following his feedback. NLB emphasised that it “takes a strong pro-family stand in selecting books for children” and “when library visitors like yourself [Teo] highlight to us any conflicting content within books, we review such books thoroughly and withdraw them from circulation”. The response was signed by Tay Ai Cheng, the assistant chief executive and chief librarian of the NLB.

A member of the Facebook group “We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore”, Teo then posted NLB’s response to him on July 8. He did not include the contents of his original e-mail complaint in the post. In the post, Teo called other members of the group to "continue to scrutinise the catalogue and not allow such children books to go under the radar screen". He also encouraged people to email NLB if they had any concerns, saying that the NLB takes swift action, "all within 2 days". However, Teo’s Facebook post in the group has since been removed.

NLB: Withdrawn books will be destroyed [Yahoo]

Notable Replies

  1. Crazy as a Loon.

  2. Singapore is a shitty place.
    Spent a week there some time back - very nice people and great food, but as a city/state/country, you can have it.

  3. This sounds typical of the paranoid police state that is the Singaporean government. Didn't they also ban chewing gum after one instance of it being discarded improperly on the metro?

  4. With luck, they'll find a home in the Streisand collection.

    What were the book titles again?

  5. A few concessions on emotionally-laden issues such as the 6th best healthcare system in the world?

    I wouldn't want to live in Singapore, I don't think, but they have a lot going for them. Good health care, quite safe, reasonable commute times. We tend to apply a very one-dimensional (and I think downright fictional) idea of freedom to these discussions.

    Sure, Americans are much better at freedom of expression legally speaking, but I promise you there are plenty of public libraries all around America where you couldn't find these books even if some of them would have the sense not to make public show of not carrying them. And if your family went bankrupt by paying for your father's heart surgery then while you are working your two minimum wage jobs you might not feel that liberated.

    People in Singapore are generally satisfied with their country because things are working for them, not because they are fools.

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