Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Department has ordered that 10 children’s books with LGBT+ themes be placed in the “closed stacks” of public libraries, meaning that library visitors will have to request a librarian to access the books.
The decision to restrict access to these books came in response to a citizens’ group complaint. Despite the fact that the Home Affairs Department reviewed the complaint and noted that “the contents of seven of these books are neutral, and do not promote or advocate homosexuality and same-sex marriage,” authorities within the department ordered that all 10 books be placed in closed stacks.
On July 4th of this year, Hong Kong’s highest court ruled that the government’s denial of a spousal dependent visa to the wife of a same-sex 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 a July 11th letter to Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Bureau, Out Leadership partner Human Rights Watch urged authorities to immediately reverse the ruling. The letter contended that hiding books from free public access which feature LBGT characters sends a stigmatizing message that LGBT content is inherently inappropriate, and deprives children of information that could be important to their development, health, and safety,
“LGBT children, who are subject to disproportionate rates of bullying and often experience feelings of isolation and alienation, need reliable, accurate, and affirming information,” Dittrich wrote. “The Hong Kong government should be working to create a climate of inclusion and tolerance for children and adults – not exclusion and stigma.”
Read more at Human Rights Watch