Media Statement: NSWCCL Condemns Cumberland Council's decision to ban books

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is disappointed in Cumberland council's decision which propagates a harmful prejudice that children need to be 'protected' from LGBTQI+ families.

What is actually true is that LGBTQI+ families and their children are greater at risk of harm from discrimination and exclusion arising from these prejudices. 

Comments from Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties:

The banning of books by a public library on the basis that a book depicts same sex relationships is out of step with Australian values and is discriminatory.

As we've seen in the support of same sex marriage and the banning of forced conversion, our community has said loudly that all families deserve the same respect, and that love is love - especially the love of a parent for their child.

Libraries are essential repositories of knowledge and information, serving as spaces for learning, exploration, and intellectual freedom. Banning books is surely the polar opposite of their mission statement.

If books do not reflect a person’s religious, cultural or political beliefs, they are not forced to attend a library to read them. History tells us that banning books never bodes well for social cohesion. Holding a particular religious belief should not permit you to ban books from a public library on the basis that do not reflect your belief.  Cumberland Council has allowed religious beliefs to be weaponised against the LGBTQI community instead of demonstrating leadership and the values of our democratic, multi-faith country.

The NSWCCL supports the LGBTQI+ community in their demands for equal rights and substantive equality. NSWCCL strongly opposes the privileging of other rights, including religious rights, so as to erode or deny the rights of LGBTQI+ persons. NSWCCL reaffirms our commitment to advocate for a Human Rights Act at both a NSW and Federal level which conclusively resolves conflicts of rights.

It is imperative that public institutions uphold the values of equality, diversity, and freedom of expression. We call on Cumberland Council to reverse their misguided decision to ban books from a public library and to:

  1. Review the diversity of books that they have available for the public in their libraries, noting that if there is an absence of representation of LGBTQI, First Nations or Culturally, Linguistically or Diverse books or authors that they should commit to ensuring the lack of representation is rectified.
  2. Apologise to the public for their initial decision; and
  3. For the individual council members who approved such actions to undergo inclusivity training.