‘Fear-mongering’: Sydney council bans drag queen storytime events at heated meeting

‘Fear-mongering’: Sydney council bans drag queen storytime events at heated meeting
‘Fear-mongering’: Sydney council bans drag queen storytime events at heated meeting
KEY POINTS
  • Cumberland City Council has banned drag queen storytime events from being held at its facilities.
  • About 300 people attended a heated meeting on Wednesday where the motion was carried.
  • The mayor opposed the motion and said it was “harmful”.
A Western Sydney council has banned drag queen storytime events in a move its mayor says sends a “harmful message”.
Cumberland City Council on Wednesday passed a motion in front of a packed gallery that means will not be held at its facilities, such as libraries and halls.
No requests to host such events have been received previously, the motion noted.
The ban came in an amendment moved by councillor Paul Garrard and seconded by Steve Christou — the council’s former mayor.

“We do not support exposing children to diverse expressions of gender identity, nor do we believe in any way that it supports their natural development of inclusiveness,” Garrard said on Wednesday.

Deputy mayor Ola Hamed labelled the move a “cheap political stunt” ahead of local council elections in September that amounted to “fear-mongering”.
She said those in the gallery had been “dragged down here not to stop story time”, which wasn’t happening at council facilities, but to help the re-election of councillors who had pushed for the ban.
About 300 people attended the heated meeting, where there were moments of interjection, accusations of lying, yelling, and applause.
The debate had carried over from a meeting last week and lasted for about 90 minutes of the two hour council meeting on Wednesday.
Mayor Lisa Lake was among the few councillors who opposed the motion.
Speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the council, she told SBS News: “I thought the motion sent a harmful message to the LGBT community — that they weren’t welcome in Cumberland.
“I was very concerned that it was very capable of causing hurt to that community, particularly to those who identify as transgender.

“We’re a very diverse area of Sydney with many different cultures, faiths and beliefs, and I felt personally to be an inclusive community we wouldn’t be making such a statement.”

Christou said in a statement on Wednesday that the motion should have been supported unanimously a week earlier and that it was the right move to make.
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said drag storytime was a positive experience for families.
“Drag story time is popular with families because it teaches children the joy of reading and imagination and is a fun opportunity to discover the diversity of the world around them,” Brown told SBS News in a statement.

“Families should not miss out on events like this because of people who want to shut down anything they don’t agree with. If you don’t want to go just don’t turn up.”

Source: sbs.com.au

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