Cumberland City Council Criticized for New LGBTQ+ Book Ban

A ban was passed in Western Sydney to remove books focused on same-sex parents from public libraries. Now, the community is outraged.

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A book about same-sex parents in front of cupped hands holding a rainbow heart.

Recently, a Sydney Council voted to pass a ban on all books involving same-sex parenting from local libraries. The blanket ban on same-sex parenting books stirred a lot of controversy from local readers in Western Sydney along with raising censorship and legal concerns on the council’s decisions. The controversy around the ban has continued to grow, but the council has yet to change its decision.

What caused the book ban in Western Sydney?

Cumberland City mayor Steve Christou put forward the idea of the ban a few weeks ago, claiming that books with same-sex parents were distressing. He brought out a book featuring same-sex parents to a meeting, claiming the book held disturbing content. Although he’d never read the book himself, he loudly advocated that they should be pulled from the council-run libraries.

Hand pulling a blue book from a bookshelf.

I’m committed to upholding the view of residents…this isn’t the end of the matter. We’ll see where it lands.

Steve Christou, The Guardian

Despite the backlash from local community members, Christou claims he is still doing his best to represent the views of the community. He believes the majority supported the ban and that he was doing what was best for readers.

How did the community respond?

Despite Christou’s claims that he has community support, there is a large outcry from upset parents and readers. A petition started to rescind the ban, and it gained nearly 10,000 signatures in its first 24 hours. The petition was hosted by Equality Australia and will be presented to the council to attempt to shift its decision.

Hands waving various LGBTQ+ flags in front of a blue sky.

It’s not just the community that was upset by the decision. Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne was also upset with the decision made by the council.

The accusation from a Cumberland City Councillor that the Inner West community is wrong to have books for rainbow families in our libraries is pathetic.

Darcy Byrne, Inner West

The council’s ban has been met with harsh backlash from the community, and while there have not been any efforts to change the decision, the community continues to push against the ban. Another concern came from the Government of New South Wales, which voiced that the council’s decision may violate the Anti-Discrimination Act. Councils are supposed to serve communities without discrimination, and this ban may violate that standard. If so, funding may be pulled entirely from the libraries.

What does this mean for LGBTQ+ books in Western Syndey?

Since the ban officially passed the council in a 6-5 vote, the books will be removed from the libraries. While the community can attempt to reverse the decision or get the ban rescinded, it will likely be an uphill battle while Western Sydney councilors like Christou adamantly refuse to change stances on the issue.

A person holding an LGBTQ+ flag behind their back.

Hopefully, if the petition is backed by a large enough portion of the community, and if it is presented properly to the council, the ban may be lifted. The community also has the opportunity to vote the councilors out and find others who better represent the community’s beliefs.

Every reader deserves access to books that reflect their lives and families, and bans like these can limit the opportunities for young readers to see themselves in books. Communities have to stick together to see the books they want on library shelves.

Want to save books from bans? Read these books that often end up banned from Bookstr’s Bookshop.

Or, read this article to learn how to protest book bans.