Censorship Hub




Why Did Singapore's Anti-Gay Censors Ban Archie's Gay Wedding And Not Northstar's

Comic

Earlier this month, state media censors in Singapore banned a 2012 Life With Archie comic book for “promoting alternative lifestyles or deviant sexual practices” through the same-sex marriage of its gay character Kevin Keller.

But surprisingly, the same censors have not banned an Astonishing X-Men issue which features the same-sex marriage of the gay superhero Northstar.

Why not? Channel News Asia quotes a spokesperson from the Singapore Media Development Board:

“The MDA takes a holistic view in assessing content and considers all factors, including the context, presentation and language. While themes may seem similar on the surface, depictions and context often vary across different works…

“The issue featured characters who objected to the wedding and this offered a balanced treatment on the issue of gay marriage.”

The Board goes onto say that the censorship even though they did not outright ban the X-Men comic, they have advised that it be "shrink-wrapped and labelled with the consumer advice 'Unsuitable for the Young.'"


Singapore Will Not Reverse Decision To Ban Children's Books With Gay Characters

Jaxe pan facebook

Singapore’s National Library Board (NLB) has responded to the outcry following its decision last week to ban two books with gay characters.

The two banned books are And Tango Makes Three, inspired by two real male penguins who hatched an egg together, and The White Swan Express, about three straight couples and one lesbian couple who travel to China to adopt baby girls.

A Facebook protest by Jaxe Pan and her daughter, which reads "Dear Minister, single families are REAL, so are adopted families, blended families, gay men and lesbian women. It’s okay that you are not like us, but please do not remove our stories, and pretend we do not exist," has been shared more than 7,000 times.

The Straits Times reports that chief executive Elaine Ng said in an interview with The Sunday Times that she was saddened that several local writers have decided to withdraw from library-related events in protest.

Ng continued:

"I understand that this is an issue that people feel strongly about but please, please also look to all the good things NLB has done over the years.  NLB has done a lot over many years to build trust in the community and we want to continue working hard to build that trust and see what we can do to reclaim the trust of those who feel disappointed in us."

However, the NLB will not reverse its decision on the ban.  Nor will the books be resold or donated because of concerns that they might be unsuitable for children.


Singapore Bans Two Children's Books With Gay Characters

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Singapore libraries have withdrawn two children's books with gay characters, reports NPR.

In a Facebook statement, The National Library Board suggests that the subject matter of the banned books is incompatible with a “pro-family” stance:

"Young children are among our libraries’ most frequent visitors. Many of them browse books in our children’s sections on their own. As such, NLB takes a pro-family and cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors. In selecting children’s books, we sieve through the contents and exercise our best judgement. Parents can be assured that NLB is sensitive to their concerns and views, and their feedback."

The two banned books are And Tango Makes Three, inspired by two real male penguins who hatched an egg together, and The White Swan Express, about three straight couples and one lesbian couple who travel to China to adopt baby girls.

Homosexuality in Singapore is criminalized with two years in prison

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Christian College Confiscates School Newspaper with Gay Student's Article: 'Why I Must Live in Fear'

Ventriloquist

Cedarville University in Ohio has undergone substantial administrative changes within the past year, including a new President for Student Life and Christian Ministries as well as no longer allowing male students to be taught Bible classes by female professors.

Cedarville UniversityThe newest development is the abolishment of the latest edition of the student newspaper The Ventriloquist after it ran some pro-LGBT articles, one from a student writing about being dismissed from a variety of student leadership positions and another from an anonymous student asking why he must live in fear at the school.

The newspapers were confiscated before they could be passed out, and the university’s Executive Director of Public Relations, Mark Weinstein offered up the excuse, "Our school has policies for soliciting and [students] need permission to distribute. It was checked and [The Ventriloquist] did not have permission.” The Ventriloquist has been distributed since 2010 without any problems and no changes regarding student publications have been made to the student handbook since that time.

You can read a digital copy of The Ventriloquist with the LGBT articles below

 

UPDATE: Cedarville University's LGBT Alliance Cedarville OUT released a statement condemning the crackdown:

CEDARVILLE, OH, April 29, 2014 – The new administration at Cedarville University, a Baptist-affiliated school in southwestern Ohio, has placed new restrictions on free speech activities on campus by forcibly confiscating copies of the independently-produced student paper, The Ventriloquist. Much of the crackdown by university administrators revolves around the paper’s discussions of LGBT issues and the reality of LGBT students’ lives on Cedarville’s campus. The acts of aggression continue to mount, leaving many students fearing for their safety.

Over the past year, several students have felt forced into leaving Cedarville because of their sexual orientation. Others have felt silenced as the university censures those who offer even a modicum of support to LGBT students. Most recently, copies of The Ventriloquist were torn from the hands of students attempting to distribute it around campus by none other than the University President.

Avery Redic told his powerful story of his time at Cedarville in an issue of The Ventriloquist before he felt forced to transfer. Another anonymous student wrote, in reference to Redic: “I’m in danger. When the university administration chooses to strip a gay student of all his leadership and ministry positions (and he ends up at Wright State) because he’s not sure what he believes on the issue, that’s a problem. It means that for the rest of my time at Cedarville, my status is on the line. I have to live in fear of my own ‘Christian’ community and what they might do to me.”

“The reality of LGBT students at Cedarville cannot be ignored,” says Grant Miller, Cedarville OUT member and former student body president. “It is a travesty that staff at Cedarville are allowing these unchecked aggressions to take place, creating a climate of fear.”

If, as Mark D. Weinstein, Cedarville’s Executive Director of Public Relations, asserts, Cedarville University, “supports free thinking and discussions on topics," Cedarville OUT demands that the papers be returned and that LGBT students be offered a safe space to talk about their lives. Cedarville OUT maintains a presence online where current students, alumni and supporters can read stories and share experiences as LGBT individuals and allies authentically living life against the backdrop of religious confusion, misunderstanding, and aggression—but also with the hope and the exhilarating freedom that comes with authenticity.


Internet Surveillance, Entrapment And Censorship On The Rise In Middle East

Eff

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently released an article stating that the digital surveillance and entrapment of LGBT-identified people is in the rise in the Arab world. The EFF also said that more websites are being blocked or censored to clamp down on LGBT speech.

SaudiarabiaThe EFF’s April Glaser and Jillian York state:

“Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country utilizing these tactics. In the United Arab Emirates, where male homosexuality is punishable by death, men have been detained for looking for sex partners in chat rooms (presumably ensnared by covert police officers). And in neighboring Iran, a massive Internet entrapment campaign a few years ago put dozens of men in jail, many of whom were subject to public torture.

State censorship of sexual content abounds online, and LGBTQ content in particular is frequently a target. Support and health websites, and LGBTQ publications are regularly shut down or become inactive… Other countries are known to filter LGBTQ sites nationwide, and U.S. search engine companies have been complicit. Microsoft's Bing service has been found to censor gay and lesbian sites in Arabic countries.”

The article says that the police are increasingly entrapping men through chat and hook-up sites like Hornet, U4Bear, and WhosHere. As a result, many LGBT-identified people are likely self-censoring because a search for online moral support or partnership can jeopardize their job prospects, social reputation, physical well-being and families’ safety.

The EFF has released an in-depth digital security guide for Arabian LGBT people as well as a multi-lingual site to help people avoid institutional persecution for online self-expression.

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Virginia School Committee Votes Unanimously To Keep 'Two Boys Kissing' On Shelves

After a public hearing following a parent’s request to remove David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing from the Fauquier High School library in Virginia, a review committee voted unanimously to keep the book on school shelves.

Two_boysFauquier.com has more:

A large crowd upwards of fifty people gathered in the Falcon Room at FHS. About 24 people gave their opinions on the matter and about six letters were read from those who couldn’t attend the meeting, including one from the author of the book, David Levithan. The comments made at the hearing showed an even split in opinion…

FHS parent Jessica Wilson made an official complaint to remove the book from the school library on Feb. 7, because she believed that the cover of the book condoned public displays of affection, which are against school policy…

Marie Miller, a teacher at FHS and the advisor for the school publication The Falconer said… “If the focus of this book was on heterosexual teen relationships, it would not be the subject of a book challenge…

The committee included Judy Olson, a parent of an FHS student, Lauren Milburn, an administrator at Liberty High School, Emmett Bales, a teacher at FHS, Kim Ritter, a librarian at Kettle Run High School, Weiher and chaired by Fauquier County Public Library Director Marie Del Rosso.

While other parents said that the book’s repeated use of “the f-word” would make it an R-rated movie inaccessible to most high school age teens, a  LGBT-identified graduate from Fauquier’s public schools attested that books like Two Boys Kissing and The Perks of Being a Wallflower helped him feel less alone and more comfortable with his identity.

Levithan’s book (which we reviewed) was nominated for a 2013 The National Book Awards in Young People's Lit. The parent who lodged the initial complaint may still appeal the committee’s decision to the school board if she so chooses.


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