Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Singapore Literature Prize Judges Resign Over Withdrawal of Children's Books

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Following the decision by Singapore's National Library Board to withdraw several books from its children's section for having homosexual themes, three judges of this year's Singapore Literature Prize have resigned in protest.

A joint statement was released by Mr. T Sasitharan, head of the Intercultural Theatre Institute, author Romen Bose, and Yale-NUS professor Robin Hemley condemning the banning of the books.

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The three judges revealed in the statement that they didn't believe they could serve on the board given the supposed close relationship between the National Book Development Council (NBDC) and the National Library Board (NLB).

However, the NLB has stated before that the removal of the books was justified as readers and librarians complained about the questionable content of the works.

The NLB has come under fire recently for the move and this isn't the first time writers have protested the banning of these children's literary works. Just last week, four Singaporean writers announced their decision to pull out of all activities involving the NLB in lieu of the organization's censorship decision.

The books include: The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families,  And Tango Makes Three. All three of these books reportedly feature gay and lesbian themes.

The American Library Association has frequently come under fire from readers due to what is deemed to be the questionable content of one of the books in particular: And Tango Makes Three. This children's work is based on the true story of two male penguins who hatched an egg in a New York Zoo.

The NBDC's Singapore Literature Prize is a biennial award sponsored by the National Arts Council. The prize offers awards as high as $10,000 to 12 writers across all four of Singapore's national languages for their work in literature.

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