TV channel rebuked over 'Play School' lesbians

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The Independent Online

For people raised in Britain, Play School evokes innocent memories of Humpty, Hamble and Jemima, the rag doll. In Australia, the television show for pre-schoolers has earned the wrath of the conservative government for portraying a little girl and her two lesbian mums.

For people raised in Britain, Play School evokes innocent memories of Humpty, Hamble and Jemima, the rag doll. In Australia, the television show for pre-schoolers has earned the wrath of the conservative government for portraying a little girl and her two lesbian mums.

Daryl Williams, the Communications Minister, sent a letter of rebuke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after the programme aired a story about the girl going to a fair. "I'm Brenna. That's me in the blue. My mums are taking me and my friend Meryn to an amusement park," the girl said, over images of her mothers waving.

Mr Williams said he had instructed the matter to be raised with the the broadcaster's governing board. "The government understands parents would expect a programme like Play School to deal with issues which are appropriate for the age of its audience," he said. Larry Anthony, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, accused ABC of promoting the views of a minority. "When it comes to my children, when I want to explain about same-sex couples ... it should be up to me, not the broadcaster," he said.

The head of ABC children's television, Claire Henderson, said: " Play School aims to reflect the diversity of Australian children."

The row has exposed the cultural divisions in Australia, a country that stages one of the world's most exuberant Gay Mardi Gras parades in Sydney but is headed by John Howard, a prime minister, who embraces the values of the 1950s. He announced legislation to ban same-sex marriages last week.

Brian Greg, a senator with the opposition Australian Democrats, said: "I would hate to see us turn the clock back to a time when minorities were censored from Australian television, as Aborigines and Asians and people with disabilities were."

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