Air New Zealand is removing a scene from its in-flight safety video after complaints from members of the gay community.
The offending scene depicts a coy All Black Richard Kahui turning down an opportunity to peck the cheek of gay Air New Zealand flight attendant Will Coxhead.
Operations and safety manager David Morgan said among the complaints was a suggestion from a professor that the video could lead to gay male suicides.
Captain Morgan said the video Crazy About Rugby, involving members of the All Black squad and with coach Graham Henry and captain Richie McCaw filmed in the cockpit, had been a phenomenal success.
"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 have in the past week," Mr Morgan said.
"The scene was not something that we, the people we tested the scene with, or indeed the participants in the scene, viewed as distasteful or likely to cause concern."
The airline would not name the complainants.
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson, who is gay, commended the airline for acting responsibly.
He had viewed the video many times without taking offence.
"I took it in the spirit of fun. But I can certainly understand some people might be concerned about it. Air New Zealand are behaving responsibly here. It is their decision," Mr Robertson said.
The adverse reaction to the scene had shocked the Air New Zealand flight attendant in the safety briefing, Mr Coxhead.
"I'm absolutely gutted that a couple of people in the gay community have ruined this for everyone else.
"I'm proud to be gay, proud to be an Air New Zealander and extremely proud of my role in the safety video. Obviously there are some people in the gay community that can be a little precious and need to lighten up."
The change to the video will start being uploaded on to aircraft this week and the video itself will be phased out by February.
The Dominion Post sought comment on the complaints from Kahui. However, NZ Rugby Union spokesman Brian Finn responded, saying the union respected the airline's decision.
"It's a decision for the airline. They've kept us informed about it. We won't be commenting on this."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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