The censorship of a kiss between two men in the broadcast of a Greek series by a local channel was another setback for gay rights in Cyprus, LGBT activists said on Thursday.

The decision to censor the scene with two men kissing on the mouth in the third season of Agries Melisses when it was broadcast by Ant1 last month was widely condemned on social media.

A Facebook group called Lgbtqi activism commented on the incident in various posts, saying that the two kiss scenes of the period drama series were censored due to “legislative ambiguity”. This was also the reason provided by the channel to the media.

A competent source of the channel told Cyprus Times that the decision was made in line with a radio and television regulation whose interpretation remains unclear.

“There are some general instructions, the flow section of the station is very sensitive. A great effort is being made. The scene that shows that two men are in a relationship was definitely not cut. That was not the purpose,” the Ant1 representative said.

The television channel did not respond to Cyprus Mail’s questions before the time of publication.

However, the state broadcasting authority told the Cyprus Mail there is no general direction or legislation banning the broadcast of any LGBTI content.

“Scenes are judged based on their context and in accordance with the time they are broadcast, age rating and taking into consideration the logic of the average person in the country,” a representative of the state broadcasting authority said.

“For the specific case, the kiss, there are no provisions or general directions or mention in the legislation,” they added.

At the same time, every media has the right to “adjust the content of its programmes based on how they judge it must be adjusted” which includes the elimination of scenes after previewing.

In the same episode, there was a scene which was not censored where one of the two men is shown half-naked, tied, beaten and covered in blood in a warehouse where he was taken by the father of his partner who was shocked to learn about his son’s relationship with a man.

Cyprus is generally behind when it comes to issues relating to LGBTQI+ issues, the creator of a social media group for LGBT rights and former member of Accept LGBTI Fotis Fotiou told the Cyprus Mail.

“What happened does not put us in a good light. We say that steps are being taken forward, but anything backwards overshadows the efforts to move forward,” he said.

The series used to be broadcast in Cyprus at around 9pm while more recently the time changed to around 10.30pm.

“We are not as forward as we think we are because everything is under the carpet,” he said, explaining that local series still do not portray LGBTI characters as something “normal”.

“Screenwriters do not even create gay characters, let alone trans or queer or non-binary,” Fotiou said adding that usually gay characters are “stereotypical and caricatured”.

Fotiou also mentioned other cases when LGBTI content was censored by local television channels and theatre plays. The activist created the social media group Support LGBT rights in Cyprus back in 2010, a year after Accept LGBTI Cyprus was fully registered in the country.

The first kiss between two men in Cyprus television was broadcast by state broadcaster Cybc on Mistika tis Petalloudas (Secrets of a Butterfly).

Accept LGBTI Cyprus was not able to respond by the time of publication.