A solidarity protest is set to take place in Cork on Friday, July 7, to demand increased protection for library staff who, in the last few months, have been subjected to intimidation and harassment by far-right groups over LGBTQ+ reading material.
One of the first anti-LGBTQ+ protests to take place at the Cork City Library on Grand Parade happened earlier in March. In that episode, far-right demonstrators entered the building and ripped up a copy of This Book is Gay by trans author Juno Dawson, while the act was live-streamed on social media.
Since then, there have been multiple reports of people entering libraries and objecting to the presence of queer books, with staff being subjected to intimidation, harassment and verbal abuse, while protestors also filmed them without their consent.
Following these incidents, a protest has been planned this Friday by workers and supporters, who will gather outside Cork City Library at 12:30pm and then march to City Hall, demanding greater workplace protections.
Irish trade union Forsa, which is among the protest organisers, said that library employees have been placed “at risk in their place of work” and accused Cork City Council of “dereliction of duty” for failing to protect them. The union also threatened the Council with industrial action over their failure to provide a safe work environment.
Solidarity TD @MickBarryTD says he will be supporting a protest by
Cork city library workers this Friday, who have been subjected to intimidation and slurs from
far right activists over LGBTQI literature. – @rtenews pic.twitter.com/AOqQF7wVvN
— Paul Cunningham (@RTENewsPaulC) July 4, 2023
“Harassment must not be tolerated, and Cork City Council must act to discharge their responsibilities as an employer under health and safety legislation,” said Richy Carrothers, one of the union officials.
Carrothers also called for the implementation of improved protections for library workers amid the “growing threat of harassment and intimidation by anti-LGBTQ+ protesters”.
He added, “Our members are at risk in their place of work. We have asked local authorities to undertake an immediate health and safety risk assessment of public libraries, and the threat posed by such protesters at libraries.”
He also called for wider public support of library workers, saying: “Libraries represent community hubs for social integration, serving as centres of cultural, educational, and academic learning, and must be places free from harassment and intimidation for both staff and library users.”
Speaking to reporters outside Leinster House, Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said that the library staff had been subjected to “intimidation and harassment from far-right activists” in their workplace.
“Workers have been subjected to abuse, they have had paedophile slurs hurled at them, they have been filmed against their wishes and they are fed up with this situation,” Barry said. He urged people to join Friday’s protest to “send a message to the far-right”.
Similar incidents of far-right groups protesting the presence of LGBTQ+ reading material in libraries are happening in several countries. While Cork Library staff vowed to keep queer books in their catalogue despite this harassment, other institutions have decided differently.
According to reports, the Young V&A Museum in the UK, a part of the Victoria and Albert Museum that is aimed at children, has removed some LGBTQ+ books without informing the authors.
My book “Here and Queer” is one of two books which affirm trans identities that have been reportedly removed from @young_vam by its Director
I am devastated and furious in equal measure
Thank you to the staff and union members fighting this decision!
— Rowan Ellis (is probably away) (@HeyRowanEllis) July 3, 2023
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