HarperCollins has apologized to an author who claimed the company's Christian division refused to publish her book unless she condemned her lesbian daughter.
According to HRC, Dawn Bennett's manuscript, about a Christian mother accepting her gay child, had been accepted by Westbow Press, a self-publishing division of the Thomas Nelson publishing group, which is itself a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.
But in an email from Thomas Nelson, Bennett was told any mention of "homosexual behavior" in the book would have to be "presented as a sin and that the person who committed the act is remorseful and has or currently is taking steps to change their lifestyle."
Bennett says she couldn't believe what she was reading, especially "after writing this book about much of the hurt and harm that my daughter and our family has experienced at the hands of certain biblical interpretation."
Horrified, she contacted HRC and launched a Change.org petition to spread the word.
Every publisher has the right to print whatever subjects they choose. However, HarperCollins is a multinational company that has LGBT titles in its catalogue. These books make them millions of dollars a year. They shouldn’t be able to take our money with one hand and then shame us with the other. I think customers need to know HarperCollins’ position on this issue especially if their position promotes causing others harm.
After Bennett's story appeared in Towleroad, HarperCollins issued an apology and said it was taking measures to prevent this from happening again:
As soon as we learned of Ms. Bennett's petition we looked into the situation and determined that there was a third-party subjective application and misinterpretation of the editorial guidelines. It was not an accurate reflection on the editorial standards of Thomas Nelson, or any other publishing group within HarperCollins.
We issued an apology to Ms. Bennett immediately, refunded her money and offered for her to continue the publishing process with WestBow. We are taking the appropriate steps to ensure that this does not happen again.
We are sincerely sorry to her and her family for any harm, pain, or embarrassment that this may have caused.