The children's title "And Tango Makes Three" sparked controversy when it was first published in the United States in 2005. The illustrated book tells the real-life story of two male penguins who hatched an egg together at New York's Central Park Zoo.
But in Singapore, however, library officials have decided they can't stomach gay penguins--not in a society where sex between men is still punishable by jail time. Last week, they ordered "And Tango Makes Three" and two other children's books that take up themes of same-sex parenting removed from libraries there.
The books are to be destroyed, or "pulped." The other titles are "The White Swan Express," which tells the story of children adopted by straight, gay, mixed-race and single parents; and "Who's In My Family," an illustrated book that includes gay couples in its portraits of family diversity.
And on Thursday, one of the city-state’s most prominent writers, novelist Suchen Christine Lim, added her voice to the growing clamor about the library’s decision. Lim told an audience at the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Assn. conference in Singapore that she, too, had been raised in an unconventional family--as the daughter of a single parent.
"In removing and pulping those books on various family structures, the National Library Board is telling these children that they and their families don't count," Lim said. "In removing these books, NLB is reducing such children and their families into invisibility."