Members of public made 11 complaints to NLB over homosexual content

The National Library Board (NLB) has moved eight titles in the children and young adults' section to sections for older readers over the past four years, following complaints that they contain homosexual content.

Since 2014, the board has received 11 complaints from the public over titles with homosexual content, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran in Parliament yesterday.

Eight titles were since moved to sections for older readers, while three were deemed suitable to remain in the original collection for children and young adults, he added.

He was responding to Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun, who had asked about the number of complaints made against books containing homosexual, religious or racial content.

On books dealing with racial, religious and other topics, the NLB has received feedback on 23 such titles. Seven were moved to sections for older readers and eight were retained in the original collection.

A series of eight Malay children's titles - Agama, Tamadun Dan Arkeologi (Religion, Civilisation and Archaeology) - was withdrawn in June last year, due to controversial religious content.

Mr Iswaran said: "The NLB seeks to balance the need for a wide-ranging library collection with sensitivity towards our community norms."

Apart from having a team of book selectors, it relies on pre-publication information from publishers and vendors, as well as reviews from library journals and sometimes, review copies to decide on what books are suitable for the library.

A Library Consultative Panel comprising citizens from "a wide cross-section" of society was established in 2015, to provide community perspectives and recommendations on books being reviewed due to concerns over content raised by members of the public.

The formation of this panel had followed an uproar over NLB's decision to remove three children's books with homosexual content.

This had led it to return two titles to its shelves, but in the adult section. The third was destroyed before the issue came to light.