Queensland conservative activist Bernard Gaynor has appealed the Australian Classification Board’s decision not to ban gender and sexuality memoir Gender Queer, sparking a new independent review.
Gender Queer: A Memoir is a 2019 graphic novel by non-binary author Maia Kobabe. Aimed at teenage readers, the memoir retells the author’s journey of sexual and gender identity.
The book has won literary awards. But its descriptions and depictions of sex and sexuality have made it the “most banned” book in the US, the American Library Association says.
In March, right-wing campaigner Bernard Gaynor complained to Logan City Council about Gender Queer on its library shelves.
Gaynor described Gender Queer as “highly pornographic” and containing child exploitation material. At the time, the library pulled the book from shelves.
He took his complaint about the book to the Australian Classification Board (ACB) The ACB can censor, restrict and ban films, literature and other content.
Australian censor passes Gender Queer ‘unrestricted’
On April 3, the ACB disagreed. The Board gave Gender Queer an “unrestricted classification” but with “consumer advice” of “M (Mature) — Not Recommended for Readers Under 15 Years”.
ACB Director Fiona Jolly said this was because “within the context of the publication, the treatment of themes is not high in impact or offensive.”
“The treatment of sex and nudity is also not high in impact and is not exploitative, offensive, gratuitous or very detailed,” Jolly said.
During its review of a work, the ACB considers “the impact of classifiable elements within the publication in the context of the publication’s narrative and artistic merits.”
“While considering that the publication should not be restricted, the Board noted that some content within this autobiographical text may offend some sections of the adult community and may not be suitable for younger readers,” Jolly said.
Bernard Gaynor appeals to Classification Review Board
Sydney bookstore Kinokuniya said in a statement they paid the fee to have the book classified.
“We feel so incredibly passionate about being able to represent and champion this title in Australia that we paid the fee, and then waited,” the bookstore said.
“We were very pleased when the Board determined [on April 3] that Gender Queer should be available Unrestricted.”
But Bernard Gaynor has confirmed he’s appealed the decision. He’s described the graphic novel as a “paedophile comic book” that “depicts and promotes children in sex acts” and should be banned.
Gaynor said he’ll front the Classification Review Board when it meets on Monday (May 29) to consider the application.
The Classification Review Board will independently review the book. The Review Board decide whether to make a new classification decision that would replace the original “unrestricted” rating.
In 2013, the Australian Defence Force sacked Bernard Gaynor as a reservist after he made anti-gay comments on social media.
At the time, Katter’s Australia Party also dumped Gaynor as a Queensland Senate candidate over the comments.
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