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Book ban at Cumberland Council library: Fiery scenes at Western Sydney council where protesters clash over same-sex ban


Hundreds of protesters have clashed in a tense situation over a council’s controversial decision to ban same-sex education books from its libraries.

On Wednesday night, there were fiery scenes outside Cumberland Council and inside a council chamber in western Sydney, where councilors are debating whether to lift the ban.

Dozens of police officers based at the station across the road from the council were forced to intervene to keep the large crowd apart.

The issue has divided the community, with one group angry at the banning of the book featuring same-sex families, while the other is outraged by subsequent efforts to overturn the ban.

Local grandmother Caroline Staples led a campaign urging the council to lift the ban, with almost 41,000 people signing a petition supporting her plan which was presented to councilors on Wednesday night.

«We are diverse, we are different, we can sit down and come together around shared values. And it’s no wonder they’re scared given what we’ve been through. They are scared in their own community,” she told 7News.

There was a tense standoff between rival groups of protesters (pictured) outside Cumberland council chambers in western Sydney on Wednesday night.

Protesters (pictured) are kept apart by a heavy police presence over the emotive issue, which has raised tensions in the area and across the city.

Protesters (pictured) are kept apart by a heavy police presence over the emotive issue, which has raised tensions in the area and across the city.

Local religious leaders were also present to address councillors.

Cumberland Council has faced a huge amount of criticism locally, across Australia and from around the world since the ban was passed a fortnight ago.

Ms Staples said she would take the fight to the NSW Government if the council did not lift the ban.

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It also investigates whether the community’s human rights have been violated.

With the support of national LGBT+ group Equality Australia (EA), she presented two petitions to the council.

The first was the EA petition, which has 40,861 signatures, including 2,194 Cumberland residents.

Another 10,065 people signed the change.org petition.

Ms. Staples, who lives in the area, is a mother of four and a grandmother in what is known as a «rainbow family.»

She said the book that prompted the ban, which is called Same-Sex Parents and features two men and a child on the cover, is a «carefully crafted children’s book that is completely age-appropriate.»

«We have to lift this ban,» she said to shouts of support and opposition from the public gallery.

Councilor Steve Christou, who moved an amendment «that council take immediate action to remove same-sex parenting books/materials from council library services», questioned Ms Staples.

«How many people did not sign the petition? That’s all,” he asked.

He later asked Ms Staples about her history in left-wing politics and she admitted she had worked part-time for NSW Labor MP Lynda Voltz, but said: «I’m here because I’ve lived here for 40 years.»

Wei Thai-Haynes of Pride in Protest said the group was «deeply disgusted» by the council’s move to ban same-sex books from its libraries.

A woman who opposes the book ban is pictured at a protest in Sydney's west on Wednesday night

A woman who opposes the book ban is pictured at a protest in Sydney’s west on Wednesday night

Supporters of the council's same-sex book ban are pictured at a protest outside Cumberland Council's offices

Supporters of the council’s same-sex book ban are pictured at a protest outside Cumberland Council’s offices

Protesters are pictured at a rally by rival factions in Sydney's west on Wednesday night

Protesters are pictured at a rally by rival factions in Sydney’s west on Wednesday night

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An Equality Australia petition with 40,861 signatures was presented to the council.  Protesters are pictured

An Equality Australia petition with 40,861 signatures was presented to the council. Protesters are pictured

“Kids are going to kill the hell out of…your actions,” she said.

‘Shame on you.’

Mayor Lisa Lake warned those in the public gallery to calm down and let people speak without interruption.

“Gallery, I will make you leave,” she said. “Sorry, but I can’t have a meeting with people yelling at me in the gallery.

Former mayor and current councilor Steve Christou (pictured) moved an amendment

Former mayor and current councilor Steve Christou (pictured) moved an amendment «that council take immediate action to remove books/materials in the library service to same-sex parents»



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