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Writer of 'gay' opera attacks censorship

Opera North defended its decision to cancel an opera involving primary school pupils after the writer refused to tone down references to a character's homosexuality.

Beached, written by Lee Hall, who also created Billy Elliot, was due to open later this month in Yorkshire. Opera North said the piece could not go ahead after Bay Primary School in Bridlington pulled 300 pupils from the project.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council said some of the language and themes – which include a male character declaring "of course I'm queer" – was "unacceptable for four to 11-year-olds to be exposed to". But Hall told The Independent: "I really want to make this issue known. Hundreds of people have been working on this project and it has just been stopped overnight.

"It is really an act of censorship and as a writer, I really have to fight against it ... for all artists' right to be able to make representations of gay people."

Opera North will lose £15,000 by cancelling the work.