Australian censor rejects push to ban Gender Queer book

Gender Queer book by Maia Kobabe
Image: Supplied

The Australian Classification Board has rejected a call to ban or restrict a gender and sexuality memoir after a conservative activist complained to Queensland Police.

Gender Queer: A Memoir is a 2019 graphic novel by non-binary author Maia Kobabe on the author’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality, aimed at teenage readers.

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, according to the American Library Association.

And last month in Queensland, conservative activist Bernard Gaynor complained to Logan City Council about the book on its library shelves.

As a result, the Logan City Council reportedly pulled the book off library shelves. Gaynor also took his complaint to Queensland Police.

Police referred the book on to the Department of Communications and Art, which runs the Australian Classification Board (ACB), for classification.

The ACB can censor, restrict and ban films, literature and other content.

ACB gives Gender Queer ‘unrestricted’ classification

Bernard Gaynor complained Gender Queer was “highly pornographic” and contained child exploitation material.

But in its decision this week, the Classification Board did not agree.

The ACB gave Gender Queer an “unrestricted classification” but with “consumer advice” of “M (Mature) — Not Recommended for Readers Under 15 Years”.

Classification Board Director Fiona Jolly said, “In the Board’s view, this publication can be accommodated in the Unrestricted classification.”

She 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 added.

During its review of a work, the ACB must consider “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.

“For this reason the Board has classified Gender Queer A Memoir ‘Unrestricted’ with consumer advice of ‘M—not recommended for readers under 15 years of age’.”

However Jolly pointed out the consumer advice “does not constitute a legal restriction on its sale or availability.”

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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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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