“Only one step”: Calls for Cumberland City Council to tackle homophobic extremism beyond book ban reversal

“Only one step”: Calls for Cumberland City Council to tackle homophobic extremism beyond book ban reversal
Image: Protestors at the speakout organised by Pride in Protest outside Cumberland City Council Chambers. Photo: Grace Johnson

Activist group Pride in Protest have written to Cumberland City Council following the controversial ban of a same-sex parenting book, saying the ban’s reversal is only one step in tackling homophobic extremism.

In an open letter addressed to Mayor Lisa Lake and Deputy Mayor Ola Hamed, whose family received threats for supporting the overturning of the ban, the group expressed strong concern for “the number of extremist bigots who also flocked to the meeting, and the drag story time ban which remains in force.”

“This extremism saw organised bashings of queer people following World Pride, and a Nazi-backed campaign against drag queen story time,” the open letter continues.

“Overturning the book ban is just, but will be only one step in dealing with these issues.”

Last month, the western Sydney council made national headlines for voting to ban same-sex parenting books from its libraries. The motion was put forward by Councillor Steve Christou, who said the contents of the book did not align with the values of the community.

The move was met with extreme backlash, culminating in a clash between protestors outside council chambers as a motion to reverse the ban was debated.

At the forefront of fighting to overturn the book ban was Pride in Protest, who organised a speak out at the protest. This was countered by a heavy presence from community members who supported the book ban, who yelled phrases like “leave our kids alone” and “piss off back to Newtown.” Several signs accused members of the LGBTIQA+ community as being paedophilic.

Pride in Protest requested the meeting “to discuss the repeal of the ban on drag storytime, and how to tackle the issue of homophobic extremists attempting to import US style culture wars into the area,” according to the open letter.

The group elaborated in response to City Hub inquiries: “We want to see a reversal of the previous council motion to ban Drag Story Time, which is an obvious example of invoking queerphobic talking points for political pandering.”

“Furthermore, we want to see a broader commitment, in both Cumberland and across local councils broadly, to see community-led efforts to quell homophobia and transphobia.”

“This means establishing and resourcing queer youth hubs, incorporating anti-queerphobic education into school curricula, and sponsoring of queer community events which enable out-and-proud LGBTQ expression.”

The group also reiterated calls for the Labor government to pass the Equality Bill, saying “Homophobia and transphobia are present in any community, but they are inflamed when bigots see that their leadership is willing to excuse, ignore or condone their hatred.”

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