Dustin Lance Black wins an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay

One of the world’s largest broadcasters – reaching hundreds of millions of viewers – has cut out references to gays and lesbians from the 2009 Academy Awards show.

The cuts were reportedly made by the STAR Asian satellite service to acceptance speeches by award winners Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black.

The two men, who won for the film Milk; about slain gay politician Harvey Milk, both made moving pleas for gay equality in their speeches.

While the show was broadcast uncensored live on Monday morning, in the rebroadcast later that evening the audio was cut from the programme whenever the words “gay” and “lesbian” were said.

A STAR spokesperson told the Associated Press that while the company did not intend to offend its gay viewers, it has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”

In the Oscar show, writer Dustin Lance Black, who received the award for Best Original Screenplay, said:

“If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.”

Sean Penn, who was awarded an Oscar for best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, spoke out against the banning of same-sex marriage.

“I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.”

STAR’s website says that the broadcaster was launched in 1991 and today reaches more than 300 million viewers in 53 countries across Asia.

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