A brief lesbian kiss at the Olympic opening ceremony has sparked praise and fury after it was aired in some of the most homophobic countries in the world.
Devised by Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle, the opening ceremony yesterday (27 July) featured the first ever televised lesbian kiss which originally aired in 1993.
The kiss was shown in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to be gay. No other gay kiss has ever been shown on television in the Middle Eastern country.
The Olympic ceremony did not shy away from other social issues, including national health care, the trade union struggle, and the battle for women’s rights.
It also showed a clip of British film Billy Elliot, showing a young gay teen dressing up in girl’s clothes.
Unsurprisingly, Boyle was accused by the political right that the event had strayed into ‘leftie’ issues.
Conservative Aidan Burley tweeted: ‘The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen — more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?’
He added: ‘Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap.’
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office distanced themselves from Burley’s comments, saying: ‘The opening ceremony has been a great showcase for this country. It’s more proof Britain can deliver.’
Burley was removed from his position as aide to the transport minister last month after it was revealed he had attended a Nazi-themed stag party in France.
Boyle, whose film Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars in 2009, denied he was pushing a political agenda.
He said: ‘The sensibility of the show is very personal.’
‘Not everybody will love that but people will be able to recognize as being honest and truthful really,’ he added. ‘I feel that very strongly. There is no bullshit in it, and there is no point-making either.’
Britain’s first televised lesbian kiss, from a 1993 episode of soap Brookside, was shown in a fast-moving montage of famous first kisses in television and film.
UPDATE: There were reports of US television channel NBC cutting the kiss, although they did cut the tribute to the victims of the 2005 London bombings. According to this video which shows the montage frame by frame, the kiss can be briefly seen.