Cartoon Network’s cartoon series Steven Universe was released to critical praise, with many commentators complimenting the show for bringing gender to the forefront of a children's show, with clear, positive LGBT+ themes throughout.
However, according to reports the network’s European division has decided to censor one of the episodes in the UK, removing a scene in which two female characters kiss.
The scene in question, which takes place in the episode ‘We Need To Talk’, has caused outrage online, with a petition having been started entitled ‘End Homophobic Censorship of Steven Universe’. It has been signed by over 4,000 people as of the 7 January.
You can see the cut for yourself in the clip below, the characters Pearl and Rose Quartz embracing at around the 1.59 mark.
As you can see, their non-offensive kiss is replaced by a shot of a young man staring on, strumming his guitar.
Since the petition gained attraction, Cartoon Network has responded to the outcry, writing on Facebook: “Cartoon Network (in Europe) often shows amended versions of programs from US originals.
“The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating –in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time.
“We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.”
This response has, in itself, caused yet more outrage, with viewers asking why a sexual/romantic interaction between a male and female character in the same episode was no censored.
“So heterosexual relationships are somehow more suitable for young people than same-sex relationships?” wrote one disgruntled viewer on Facebook, while another wrote: “Censoring at this point is still very unnecessary, there is nothing offensive about the scene you censored.”
Pink News, who were one of the first to notice the change, noted that the BBFC’s ‘Universal’ rating allows for characters to “be seen kissing or cuddling and there may be references to sexual behaviour. However, there will be no overt focus on sexual behaviour, language or innuendo”, a condition the censored scene does not break.
Steven Universe’s former producer Ian Jones-Quarterly has previously confirmed that two of the female characters, Ruby and Sapphire, are “in a romantic relationship and I don’t believe any different”. How and if Cartoon Network are going to censor that relationship as well is currently unknown.