Singapore: Literary prize judges step down over ‘bigoted’ destruction of ‘gay books’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Three authors have stepped down from their roles as judges for a Singaporean literary prize, after the country destroyed copies of ‘gay-themed’ books.

Last week the National Library Board (NLB) decided to remove and destroy all copies of ‘And Tango Makes Three’, ‘The White Swan Express’ and ‘Who’s In My Family’, three books featuring LGBT families, including gay couples.

Today three judges of this year’s Singapore Literature Prize resigned due to the actions of the NLB.

“We condemn in the strongest terms NLB’s decision to remove and destroy these books, given that it is responsible for the dissemination of information rather than its destruction. The fact that the board has not even considered restricting access to the publications but has moved directly to pulping them is very disconcerting,” said the judges’ statement released yesterday.

Writers in Singapore have condemned the NLB over the last week for participating in ‘book burning’ and censorship.

The three judges included their own condemnation in their statement, calling the planned destruction of the books “bigoted and sets a very worrying precedent that it is acceptable to discriminate against anyone who may hold differing values and opinions.”

A number of authors scheduled to speak at the Singapore Literature Prize gathering withdrew from the event over the weekend.

Sex between men is illegal in Singapore and punishable by up to two years in jail under a provision in the penal code dating back to British colonial rule.