In this photo, A lesbian couple hold hands during the annual Gay Pride rally.

The Cumberland City Council in Sydney on Wednesday saw people gather outside, as it debated whether to uphold or rescind the ban on a book on same-sex parenting from the libraries on its premises.

Earlier in May, the council in Merrylands had voted to "take immediate action to rid same-sex parents books/materials in council's library service." The members voted for the ban after former mayor, Steve Christou, brought a motion saying he received complaints from "distraught" parents to see the book "A Focus On: Same-Sex Parents" by Holly Duhig, displayed in the children's section of the library, The Guardian reported.

The suburban council in Sydney covers a diverse population of about 240,000 people living near Parramatta. Since 2019, the council's libraries have had five copies of the "A Focus On: Same-Sex Parents."

As the city council debated the issue, two groups of protestors gathered outside shouting slogans at each other while police from the riot squat stood between them, ABC News reported. The council also expelled two men from the meeting for heckling the speakers.

The Pride in Protest rally organizers, who opposed the ban, demanded the New South Wales Premier Chris Minns expel the Labor council members who supported the ban. "Hate is not a family value," they said.

The spokeswoman for Pride in Protest, Wei Thai-Haynes, said books on rainbow families were "a normal part of life and not 'indoctrination' or 'sexualizing children'."

"Diversity is our strength," they said. "If you don't want to read the book, then don't read it. Keep your views at home if they're hateful."

Groups supporting the ban were seen outside the council holding placards such as "Leave our kids alone," and "Stop demoralizing kids. Sodomy is a sin."

In the meeting, Caroline Staples, a resident of the Cumberland area and a grandmother in a rainbow family, submitted a petition with more than 42,000 signatures of people calling for the ban to be rescinded. "The destruction and censoring of libraries is a weapon of war," she said.

Christou claimed the community wanted the book as it "sexualized children" and was inappropriate for his "very religious" community. He later admitted to not reading it.

"I'm only representing the values of our community and what the majority of people are telling us ... we're not marginalizing anyone here," he said.

NSW Arts Minister John Graham pointed out the ban violated the access to information guidelines under the Library Act 1939. The guidelines state that materials not subject to federal or state restrictions "should not be excluded from a public library on moral, political, racial, religious, sexist, language, or other grounds."

He warned that the ban could lead to funding consequences. "We are examining the consequences this decision may have for the council continuing to receive library funding from the NSW government," he said.

The decision was also criticized by leaders on both sides of state politics. While Premier Minns called it a "joke," Opposition Leader Mark Speakman said the move is "what happens in totalitarian countries."