Airline removes "gay kiss" scene from safety video

Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:15am EST
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WELLINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Air New Zealand is deleting a scene from its inflight safety video featuring rugby players after complaints about a scene where one player declines to give a gay flight attendant a kiss.

The "Crazy About Rugby" video features a flight full of rugby fans, including some dressed in costumes and one grandmotherly woman toting a huge picture of a buff player. Also on board are some real members of the All Blacks national team.

At one point, a female flight attendant grows faint and drops into a seat, reaching eagerly for an oxygen mask, as a handsome player gives her the eye.

Later, another female flight attendant gets a peck on the cheek from a player -- who smilingly declines when a male flight attendant walks up and invites him to do the same for him.

Air New Zealand said it was removing the scene in response to complaints from members of the lesbian and gay community, as well as concern expressed by an unidentified university professor, that the scene could lead to gay male suicide, despite the fact that much of the feedback about it had been positive.

The video has received more than 650,000 hits on the internet.

"When we created this video and discussed the scene featuring a gay male flight attendant and a rugby player with key stakeholders, including a number of the gay community, we received none of the feedback we received in the past week," David Morgan, general manager of airline operations, said in a statement.

The company would err on the side of caution and remove the scene, especially since the video had less than two months left to run, he said.

Will Coxhead, an Air New Zealand flight attendant who was the attendant in the scene, said he was "gutted" by the response of "some people in the gay community."

"I'm proud to be gay, proud to be an Air New Zealander and extremely proud of my role in the safety video ... It was a bit of fun and was only meant as such," he said.

This is not the first time Air New Zealand safety videos have drawn attention. In one last year, aircraft personnel wore only "clothing" drawn on with body paint. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel)