Western Sydney council reverses book ban following clashes

Western Sydney council reverses book ban following clashes
Image: LGBTQ demonstrators outside Cumberland City Council Chambers on Wednesday night.



After four hours of heated debate on Wednesday night, the Cumberland City Council’s ban on a same-sex parenting book has been overturned.

The western Sydney council faced national and global backlash for banning the book, Same-Sex Parenting by Holly Duhig. The book, aimed at describing diverse family structures for a younger audience, depicts two men and a child on the cover.

Council was debating Labor councillor Kun Huang’s motion not to ban the book but to instead move it to the junior non-fiction section.

The motion was passed 12-2 at 10:45pm on Wednesday night.

Councillor Mohamad Hussein, who had originally supported the ban, against his Labor party politics, changed his vote at the last minute.

Only Cr Eddy Sarkis supported Cr Steve Christou, who had originally brought forward the motion to ban the book.

In the final hour, Cr Christou was also abandoned by party colleagues Paul Garrard and Helen Hughes, voting instead to reverse the ban and stock the book in the junior non-fiction section of the council’s libraries.

Cr Christou later said outside the meeting that he was “disappointed” by some colleagues that had had a firm position: “with pressure put on by the media, they changed their position.”

During the fiery meeting, which saw several members of the public ejected, Deputy Mayor Ola Hamed accused Cr Christou, of “cheap political point-scoring”.

She also noted that the book had been on library shelves since 2019, when he was mayor.

“Here we are again entertaining another time-wasting distraction from Cr Christou, one that is hateful and divisive … All in the name of cheap political point-scoring,” said the deputy mayor.

“This is about the election [being] around the corner,” she said. “It’s about staying relevant.”

While councillors debated inside council chambers on Wednesday night, protestors were engaged in a heated standoff that lasted for hours.

A heavy police presence kept them firmly divided.

The LGBTQ community chanted continuously and in unison, while Merrylands locals that supported the book ban were comparatively quieter, except for untimed bursts.

“Leave our kids alone,” some men yelled into a megaphone intermittently.

“Piss off back to Newtown, we live here.”

The LGBTQ demonstrators, organised by activist group Pride in Protest, yelled, “Bigots fuck off, bigots are not welcome here.”


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