Esther Anderson as Charlie Buckton

The Australian family soapie, Home and Away, is embroiled in controversy over its inclusion of a same-sex kissing scene between policewoman Charlie Buckton, played by actress Esther Anderson, and trawler worker Joey Collins, played by Kate Bell.

The scene was reportedly toned down by Australia’s Seven network, which apparently cut out the more intimate, close up shots of the couple’s kiss.

However, sources in the production insist that the kiss was no less intimate than a kiss shared by any heterosexual couple on the show.

Bevan Lee, head of creative drama and development at Channel Seven, told Same Same that the smooch was not censored:

“The kiss, as played, was two part. A very gentle, loving, sensual, tender kiss from which the two women pull back and then there’s another, more lusty follow up… There was a lot of discussion, artistic and not censorish, about where to finish the scene. We finally settled on the conclusion of the warmer, intimate kiss and not the more lusty follow through…”

He said that this was based on the nature of the character’s relationship and not out of a need to censor the lip-lock.

Home and Away is broadcast during prime time television in Australia and is rated PG. This attracts a large audience of younger viewers, and many mothers have contacted the network to complain about the exposure of their children to same-sex relationships.

Ratings for the show have dropped, as viewers reportedly turned off the show due to the controversial scene. Today Tonight, Seven’s current affairs show, ran a story that featured a conservative lobby group called Pro-Family Perspectives who complained about a so-called “gay-agenda.”

Australian media commentator David Knox said that the “PG classification allowed for adult themes with limitations and did not discriminate between gay and straight content.”

“It’s sad that in 2009 a kiss is considered more threatening to advertisers and family values than stalkers, serial killers and kidnappers,” he added.

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