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Singapore single mom fights back against ban on gay-friendly books

Singapore National Library Board has pulled gay-friendly books from shelves, and LGBTI families fight back saying ‘we are real’

Singapore single mom fights back against ban on gay-friendly books

A single mom from Singapore is fighting back against the move to ban gay-friendly books from libraries.

The books, designed to teach children about same-sex families, have caused such a stir and been removed from Singapore’s libraries by the National Library Board.

The books in question are ‘And Tango Makes Three’, about two male penguins raising a baby chick, ‘The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption’, which involves a lesbian couple and ‘Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families.’

Jaxe Pan, a single mom with a daughter, posted a picture of her and her daughter holding a sign with a message to Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Information, who backed the ban.

‘Dear Minister, single families are REAL, so are adopted families, blended families, gay men and lesbian women,’ read the sign.

‘It’s okay that you are not like us, but please do not remove our stories, and pretend we do not exist.’

The image, posted on 11 July, has been shared over 6,000 times with the hashtag #wearereal.

Pan also wrote a heartfelt message to accompany the image.

‘My daughter and I have a very close relationship,’ she wrote.

‘Even though there are only two of us, we are bonded in love and kinship and we are a real family.

‘Together with many friends I know who are single parents, adopted parents, blended-family parents, homosexual men and women, we are real, and we live alongside other Singaporeans from traditional men-woman union, making the same contribution to our country.

‘I fear that other children would only recognise a singular family model, and regard my daughter as alien.’

Ibrahim said the books were deviant and should not be in Singaporean libraries.

‘The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about,’ said Ibrahim.

‘Societies are never static, and will change over time. But NLB’s approach is to reflect existing social norms, and not to challenge or seek to change them.’

Initially, a complaint from a member of the ‘We Are Against PinkDot Singapore’ group on Facebook, who issued the complaint to the National Library Board.

PinkDot Singapore is a pro-LGBTI equality group, which saw huge crowds rally together wearing pink to show their support for gay rights in June. 

Author Donald Low has pulled out of the Singapore Writers’ Festival in November in protest of the proposed destruction of the books.

‘I see no evidence of a significant segment of Singapore society objecting to these books being in our public libraries, even if the majority of Singaporeans are conservative,’ he said.

‘I’ve always believed that Singapore society is generally tolerant, open and relaxed about people whose sexual orientations are different from ours — even if we don’t agree with them.’

Ibrahim’s Facebook post, where he made his statements regarding the books, has sparked over 200 responses. Some are in favour of the ban, whereas others see the ban as an indicator of homophobia and discrimination.

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