'Hate is not a family value': book ban protesters erupt

A suburban Sydney council chambers has become the battle ground for two warring groups after a decision to ban books featuring same-sex parenting.

Two groups of about 100 each gathered outside the Cumberland City Council building in Merrylands on Wednesday night, one calling for the book to be returned to library shelves and the other arguing its content amounted to a moral sin. 

The council covers a diverse population of about 240,000 people living near Parramatta. 

Members narrowly voted in May to "take immediate action to rid same-sex parents books/materials in council’s library service".

The ban has fulled community tensions and placed the council's funding under threat.

Protesters from warring sides yelled over the top of each other for hours with young families, couples and students turning up with placards and flags in hand. 

Protesters gather outside the Cumberland City Council
The council's decision to ban a book featuring same-sex parenting has fulled community tensions.

Local couple Sandy and Ady Fitter said it was important for their children, aged three and six months, to grow up in a community where they were accepted. 

"Diversity is our strength," Ms Fitter told AAP. 

"If you don't want to read the book, then don't read it. 

"Keep your views at home if they're hateful." 

Pride in Protest rally organisers have called for the council to rescind the ban and for NSW Premier Chris Minns to expel Labor council members who supported it. 

"We reject the idea that western Sydney is a hub of bigots who support these homophobic bans," Pride in Protest spokeswoman Wei Thai-Haynes said.

“This is an attempt by the far right to force queer people out of public life, and NSW Labor are helping it happen."

Ms Thai-Haynes said books that depicted rainbow families, or drag performers reading stories, were "a normal part of life and not ‘indoctrination’ or ‘sexualising children'." 

Counter-protesters, meanwhile, held placards demanding the council: "Leave our kids alone". 

"Stop demoralising kids. Sodomy is a sin," read another.  

Chants of "pee back off to Newtown" rang out.

Anti-Discrimination NSW president Helen McKenzie has said diversity should be represented in the books available to the community.

"For rainbow families living in the Cumberland council area, this is a hurtful and divisive act which impacts them and their children," she told reporters on May 8. 

NSW Arts Minister John Graham said banning books was a bad sign for civilisations, adding local councillors should not engage in censorship.

"We are examining the consequences this decision may have for the council continuing to receive library funding from the NSW government," he said.

Five copies of the book A Focus On: Same Sex Parents have been in the council's libraries since 2019.

The book is part of a series that aims to inform children about "difficult realities" and "healthy ways for children to process and understand them".

The councillor who put forward the motion, former mayor Steve Christou, said the community wanted the book banned.

"I'm only representing the values of our community and what the majority of people are telling us ... we're not marginalising anyone here," he said.

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