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Pressure mounts on Hong Kong libraries to put LGBTI books back on shelves

Pressure mounts on Hong Kong libraries to put LGBTI books back on shelves

a group of people holding banners and signs in chinese and english. some people are holding rainbow flags and umbrellas. some people are sitting cross legged on the ground reading to children

Pressure is increasing on Hong Kong’s public libraries to return LGBTI themed children’s books to the shelves.

In June a conservative group successfully lobbied for the removal of ten LGBTI themed children’s books from library shelves.

The ten titles are now in under lock and key in the libraries. People interested in reading them, must ask for them to be unlocked.

While activists in Hong Kong were quick to protest the move, international organizations are now sharing their thoughts on the issue.

Human Rights Watch wrote to Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Bureau asking it to put the books back on the shelves.

One of the books, is about two male penguins who hatch an egg and raise a youngster. The book is called And Tango Makes Three,

‘Instead of hiding a children’s book about a same-sex penguin couple, Hong Kong’s government should endorse nondiscrimination and put the books back on the open shelves,’ said Boris Dittrich, HRW’S LGBT rights advocacy director.

‘While Hong Kong’s highest court is taking down discriminatory walls, the government seems intent on maintaining them.’

HRW said hiding books from free public access sends a stigmatizing message that LGBT content is inherently inappropriate. It said the government’s actions also deprive children of information that could be important to their development, health, and safety.

‘LGBT children, who are subject to disproportionate rates of bullying and often experience feelings of isolation and alienation, need reliable, accurate, and affirming information,’ Dittrich said.

‘The Hong Kong government should be working to create a climate of inclusion and tolerance for children and adults – not exclusion and stigma.’

Open Library

A coalition of concerned citizens quickly formed the United Front for Open Libraries (UFOL) to fight the decision.

On Sunday (8 July) it held an Open Library Day. The day included bilingual forums with panelists of academics, authors, illustrators, publishers, parents, teachers; story telling; exhibition of comic illustration and diverse books.

a woman sits in front of a projector reading from a children's book while two people in penguin costumes sit next to her
Reading And Tango Makes Three to the Open Library Day in Hong Kong. | Photo: Facebook

UFOL organized the day as a response to the books’ removal from Hong Kong public library shelves.

‘Many groups with an interest in gender and family diversity were extremely dismayed and disappointed,’ UFOL said in a statement.

‘They formed the UFOL to defend free access to information and the civil right to equal access to library services.’

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