Australia’s National Broadcaster Cancels Drag Queen Story Time After Public Furore

Ginger Forest hugs 4-year-old Lily Kornfeind during story time with drag queens at brunch
Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty, file

The taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been forced to scrap a drag queen story time session for children as young as three after opponents forced a backdown.

The four-hour event set for a Sydney, NSW, suburb was designed to be a lead in to the city’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras week of events.

Drag performers were scheduled to read books to children which sparked outrage from locals, Christian groups, and lawmakers who questioned whether the session was appropriate for very young children.

Others claimed the event in the state capital was a form of “gender indoctrination” based on LGBTQIA+ principles.

File/Drag queens joins the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the largest gay and lesbian evening parade held in the world, attracted in excess of 600,000 spectators including thousands of overseas visitors to the NSW state capital. (PAUL JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

The ABC is now considering options to host the event in the wake of what it called the “hateful and offensive response” as set out in its cancellation announcement:

The ABC condemns the hateful and offensive response we have received from some individuals in response to the callout for this event. The event will no longer be held at the Rockdale Library and the ABC is considering how we can safely host it.

The ABC invited families from within the LGBTQIA+ community to participate in a Drag Queen Story Time event which would be filmed as part of our Mardi Gras coverage. These events are designed for families and are regularly held in public spaces.

The ABC is the official host broadcaster for the 2024 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. As part of this partnership the ABC showcases the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community, aligning with its Charter obligation to reflect all Australians.

Women’s Rights Network Australia co-founder Kit Kowalski told the Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper many women had expressed their concerns about the event to the ABC.

‘The ABC is going [beyond] it’s remit to reflect the national character by actively organising controversial events where males dressed in a sexualised caricature of women read books to children,’ Kowalsji said.

The ABC receives more than $1 billion dollars of Australian taxpayer dollars annually.

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