Censored Brokeback film offends gay rights group

Posted at 12/13/08 1:49 AM

ROME – Homosexuals and free speech advocates have criticized Italian state broadcaster RAI for cutting the most explicit scenes when it showed the film Brokeback Mountain.

The film, which won three Oscars in 2006, tells the homosexual love story of two cowboys over the years while they are both married and have families.

The version which the state broadcaster ran on Monday night, starting at 10:45 p.m., did not include scenes where the two cowboys, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, first make love in a tent and a later kissing scene.

"Don't they think an adult audience could have withstood kisses and effusive love between two men?" Auerilio Mancuso, the head of Italy's largest gay rights group, Arcigay, was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper La Repubblica.

Mancuso said he would ask a parliamentary commission which oversees RAI to investigate.

RAI said it was not a case of censorship but more of an internal organizational issue.

It said the original plan was to run the cut version earlier at prime time, when broadcasts are subject to censorship because children may be watching. But the broadcast time was moved to a later slot and technicians forgot to run the full version.

Critics said a film with two heterosexuals kissing would not have been subjected to cuts, even in prime time.

RAI said the full version of the film, which was directed by Ang Lee, would be run sometime soon in a late-night slot.