Singapore won't destroy 2 gay-themed book titles

The Associated PressJuly 18, 2014 

— Two children's books dealing with gay subjects won't be destroyed after all and will be restored to Singapore's public libraries, an official said Friday.

Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim had said in mid-July he supported the state-run National Library Board's decision to pulp three books deemed to have inappropriate content. But many people in the conservative Southeast Asian city-state objected.

"I understand these reactions, which reflect a deep-seated respect in our culture for the written word," he said in a statement. He stood by the decision to remove the books from the children's section of the libraries, but said he instructed libraries to place the books in their adult sections.

One of the titles was already disposed of, "Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families." The books he ordered not to be pulped are "And Tango Makes Three," a real-life story about a male-male penguin couple in the Central Park Zoo, and "The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption," which involves a lesbian couple.

In recent months, religious conservatives in the wealthy, multi-cultural city-state of 5.4 million people have become more vocal in opposing gay rights. On paper, gay sex remains a criminal offense in Singapore, although authorities rarely enforce the British colonial-era legislation.

Last month, Singapore witnessed its largest gay-rights rally with 26,000 in attendance.

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