Italy’s public broadcaster Rai had to field a public outcry after it censored a gay sex scene in the popular drama How to Get Away With Murder.
The scene in question from the pilot episode reveals how character Connor (Jack Falahee) obtains sensitive case documents for Annalise (Viola Davis) via a steamy hook-up with Oliver (Conrad Riamora).
Show creator Peter Nowalk got wind of the edit and tweeted his disappointment, posting the original scene as it was meant to be viewed.
Falahee tweeted one side-by-side comparison, stating solely: “Damn, this is crazy.”
Damn, this is crazy. https://t.co/H3EwwkU0MJ
— Jack Falahee (@RestingPlatypus) July 9, 2016
Viewers across Italy also tweeted their disappointment. RaiDue, where the show airs, tweeted an apology, acknowledging their fault on “an excess of modesty,” and vowed to air the episode Sunday night as intended.
“Censorship of any love is inexcusable,” tweeted executive producer Shonda Rhimes.
— Matteo Mizzoni (@Diconoche) July 8, 2016
Rai’s official news Twitter feed responded, “True @shondarhimes. An integral version of the episode is scheduled to air tomorrow at 9 pm on @Rai2. #LoveisLove #htgawm.”
How to Get Away With Murder originally aired uncensored on Sky’s pay TV Fox channel in Italy, and in an edited version in its second run on RaiDue, which did not censor heterosexual sex scenes.
Ilaria Dallatana, director of RaiDue, while not acknowledging censorship, reinforced to Italian media that the incident was merely the mistake of an overzealous editor. She pointed out that programming such as How to Get Away With Murder and Jane the Virgin (surrogacy is illegal in Italy) is helping to move the conversation about difficult topics forward in the country. “Even these controversies help us to take the right steps for the future. As demonstrated by our new programming schedules, RaiDue will be increasingly sensitive to the complexity of the contemporary world.”
When asked by one viewer on Twitter why he doesn’t care about censorship in the Middle East, Nowalk responded, “I didn’t know! Fans, let me know when the show is edited in your country. #LoveIsLoveIsLove.”
In May, Italy became the last country in Western Europe to approve same-sex civil unions, despite strong opposition by the Catholic Church. While hailed by human rights activists as a step in the right direction, the new law fails far short of full marriage rights and does not allow couples the right to adopt partners’ biological children.