Air New Zealand is removing a scene in an in-flight safety video where All Black Richard Kahui refuses to kiss a gay flight attendant on the cheek, because of complaints from GLBT people.
The airline says there has also been concern from a university Professor that the scene in "Crazy About Rugby" could lead to gay male suicide. The kiss denial comes moments after Kahui gives a female attendant a kiss on the cheek for a picture.
Air New Zealand says the video has been viewed by more than two million people on aircraft, online and via the media. It says it has received huge volumes of positive feedback, including regular applause from customers on aircraft.
"The video has been a phenomenal hit from the perspective that it has really engaged customers in its core messages around safety," says General Manager Airline Operations and Safety Captain David Morgan.
"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. 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," he says.
"We could have set out to run research on whether the views of the complainants in the past week were representative of the wider gay community. However, given the Crazy About Rugby safety video only has another seven weeks to run, we have opted on the side of caution and are changing out the scene."
The reaction to the scene has shocked Air New Zealand flight attendant Will Coxhead who was the flight attendant in the scene and he says he has been inundated with hundreds of compliments from people within the gay community and customers.
"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. If anything this particular scene shows a bit of light hearted humour about the situation," he says.
"If you take the complainants' view of life, why not cry foul about gay people showing any sign of affection to anyone who's straight. Come on, it was a bit of fun and was only meant as such."