State broadcaster’s omission of gay kiss causes furor

Local media, a SYRIZA MP and members of the television-viewing public lashed out at state broadcaster NET on Tuesday after the programmer cut out a scene showing two men kissing on the lips in the Greek premiere of the hit British-American television drama «Downton Abbey» on Monday night.

Dimitris Papadimoulis of the leftist SYRIZA opposition party accused the management of NET of pandering to the far-right party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) and to the Bishop of Piraeus Serapheim, both vocal opponents of gay rights.

Papadimoulis asked on his Twitter account: «Who decided on this censorship? Serapheim of Piraeus or Golden Dawn?»

Popular free press Lifo said in a commentary that «the action is not just outrageous, but ludicrous,» while Athinorama, a widely read weekly entertainment guide, also lashed out at the decision saying «well at least they didn’t touch the context.»

The scene is 12 seconds long and shows a duke kissing a footman in the drama, which is set in a fictional Yorkshire country estate in the first quarter of the 20th century and is based on the shifting relationships between the aristocratic family and their servants.

Following the accusations levied against it by the SYRIZA deputy as well as by viewers on other social networking websites, NET’s management issued a statement denying that the scene was censored.

Costas Spyropoulos, the broadcaster’s general director for television, said that «the erotic relationship between two men, as it arises from the narrative, was not censored. Only the kiss was cut because of the hour of broadcasting.»

The first episode of the much-advertised series was broadcast at 10 p.m. on Monday with a parental guidance warning.

Spyropoulos said that it will be rebroadcast in full at a later hour on Tuesday.

The omission of the kiss in «Downton Abbey» comes just a few days after a group of zealots and Golden Dawn protesters twice interrupted the premiere at a central Athens theater of a play depicting Jesus Christ as being gay.

Two opening nights of Terrence McNally’s «Corpus Christi» at the Hytirio Theater were cancelled after theater staff and cast members, as well as members of the public, were verbally and physically attacked by protesters outside the venue.

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