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Educational authors told not to mention gay relationships

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Guidelines on educational books tell authors not to talk about same-sex relationships.

On Radio 4’s Today programme, Jim Naughtie read out a letter from Oxford University Press to its authors, which said that books could not mention pigs or pork products for fear of losing sales in its Middle Eastern market. Other subjects they advise not to talk about include same-sex relationships, alcohol, drugs, religion and politics in order to be acceptable in more conservative countries

English language teaching (ELT) author Nicola Prentice told the Guardian: “Things like gay relationships are an absolute no-no – a lot of writers feel why can’t we sometimes have a photo of a couple who happen to be men, without making an issue of it?

“Same sex cohabitation is OK but we couldn’t suggest that university students were living in mixed accommodation, or mention sex, religion, drugs and alcohol. ELT is renowned for being bland, because we have to take out so much.

“All we’re left with is the environment as a topic, or eating in a restaurant – but then you could never have a wine bottle on the table.”

The Guardian reports that guidelines state books “should also work in all areas of the world including more modest markets like the Middle East. For this reason you must be extremely cautious about cultural taboos such as young men and women cohabiting as students, or girls going shopping for shorts, or friends going out drinking.”

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