What ‘closed stacks’ for LGBT books at Hong Kong public libraries reveal about the city’s government

June 15 was a sad day for those who believe in equality, for on that day the Leisure and Cultural Services Department removed to the “closed stacks” of its libraries 10 children’s stories about diverse families (“ And Tango Makes Three among 10 children’s books with LGBT themes taken off the shelves in Hong Kong’s public libraries”, June 20).

They then even issued a statement that they adhered to the Unesco Public Libraries Manifesto and were “committed to safeguarding access to free information”. Seemingly, “safeguarding access” means hiding books.

For the record, Unesco states: “The services of the public library are provided on the basis of equality of access for all, regardless of age, race, sex, religion, nationality, language or social status.” Also: “Collections and services have to include all types of appropriate media [and] must reflect current trends and the evolution of society”.

The LCSD is also in breach of at least the spirit of published government policy, which has it that “all human beings are born equal” and that “government does not condone discrimination of any kind”.

We have all seen these stirring statements on posters at bus stops around the town. So what is the government’s response to a noisy minority group that wishes to put all LGBTI people back in the closet?

On June 15 we had the answer; they do what the homophobes ask them to do. Read more via South China Morning Post

Hong Kong: LGBT-Themed Books Restricted in Libraries

Hong Kong authorities should immediately reverse a decision to place 10 children’s books with LGBT themes in the “closed stacks” of public libraries, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Bureau. One of the books, And Tango Makes Three, is a children’s book based on a true story about two male penguins who hatch an egg and raise a youngster.

But in an important judgment on same-sex relationships, Hong Kong’s highest court ruled on July 4, 2018, that the government’s denial of a visa and associated benefits to the same-sex spouse of a legal resident amounted to discrimination.

“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, LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “While Hong Kong’s highest court is taking down discriminatory walls, the government seems intent on maintaining them.”

In correspondence Human Rights Watch reviewed dated June 15, 2018, Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Department responded to a citizens’ group complaint regarding 10 children’s books that feature diverse families and gender expressions. The Home Affairs Department noted that “the contents of seven of these books are neutral, and do not promote or advocate homosexuality and same-sex marriage.” Nonetheless, authorities within the Home Affairs Department proceeded to order that all 10 books be placed in the “closed stacks,” meaning library visitors will need to request a librarian to access the books.  Read more via HRW