A same-sex kiss between Home & Away‘s Alex (Zoe Ventoura) and Willow (Sarah Roberts) was cut from Australian broadcasting, but screened in New Zealand, which Seven blames on “human error.”
A close relationship between the two characters has been developing in recent months and has been praised by LGBT fans of the show.
However after one episode aired in November some New Zealand viewers drew attention to key differences from the Australian edition.
The NZ scene continued for another 40 seconds after the Aussie version.
Seven released a statement saying, “Unfortunately due to human error, the two episodes that aired in Australia were not the final versions.
“As with any television show, numerous changes are made throughout the post production process all the way up until final broadcast.
“7Plus has been updated to reflect the final versions of these episodes.”
YouTuber Alex Shillington says there have been other instances of subtle cuts which diminish the intimacy of the relationship.
In another scene shown in Australia, Willow gives a long and emotional speech to her girlfriend and the scene ends before Alex reacts. In the New Zealand version, the scene continues for another 40 seconds with Alex kissing Willow and the pair planning a trip away.
A third scene has a line cut from it where the character Alex tells her girlfriend she did not expect to meet her when she took up a job as a doctor in Summer Bay.
“That edited version really downplays their relationship,” Shillington said.
“It kind of feels like they prepared two different versions, so they had a version they could pull the plug on that couple if it didn’t go well, but they got a good reaction from the audience.”
Since the introduction of Ventoura’s character Home & Away has actually been more relaxed with her same-sex identity than the show’s dreadful track record in this area.
Historically the Summer Bay soap has a notoriously bad record on LGBT, most notably when network execs order a 2009 kiss be watered down between Charlie (Esther Anderson) and Joey (Kate Bell) before ever being broadcast, after newspapers whipped it up into a media frenzy.
It took almost a decade before gay characters stepped back into the soap. In 2018 a same-sex teen kiss between Ty (Darius Williams) and his friend Ryder (Lukas Radovich) passed without incident.
Meanwhile Neighbours has embraced rainbow characters gay and transgender, with gay weddings and progressive storylines for sustained characters. Even Dance Academy had same-sex kisses in 2010 on ABC3.
TV Historian Andrew Mercado told TV Tonight, ““I would be very disappointed if Seven is filming two different versions of gay scenes. Especially given how long it has taken them to introduce a regular gay character. And let’s not forget their past ugly history of censoring gay moments like this.
“How does Australia, which screens the show at 7pm, get a ‘tamer’ non-kiss version, while New Zealand, screening it in an earlier timeslot, is OK with a gay kiss?”