Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn’s heartfelt Oscar speeches in support of gay rights were cut out of the broadcast by a satellite TV station which beams its signal to 300 million viewers in numerous Asian countries.
The STAR satellite channel, which broadcasts to more than 300 million viewers in 53 countries, also cut the sound when Dustin Lane Black, who wrote the screenplay for Penn’s film, Milk, addressed “all the gay and lesbian kids”. Milk is the story of Californian gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Both Penn and Black backed gay marriage in their speeches and called for equal rights for homosexuals. Penn opened by calling the audience “commie, homo-loving sons of guns”.
Gay Asians voiced their anger at the broadcaster, which censored its evening telecasts of the awards ceremony. “As a gay man, I am truly offended,” Pang Khee Teik, a prominent Malaysian arts commentator, wrote in a letter sent out to several media organisations. “Stop censoring the words that describe who I am.” Pang said the move “sent a message … that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public’s ears.”
Users of Internet forums in Singapore and India also complained about the censored speeches. Jannie Poon, STAR’s Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, stressed that the company had no intention of upsetting any viewers, but said it has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”