Satellite channel STAR Movies in India has come underfire for editing out gay references in speeches made by Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black in its coverage of the 81st Oscars.

While the edits were not made during the live telecast on Sunday night, the subsequent repeats were shown without the references.

In a heartfelt speech, Black said, “If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours.”

Penn also made a hard-hitting plea for the rights of gay people to marry.

The actor said, “I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.”

A STAR spokesman told news agency AP that while not meaning to offend gay people, the channel has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”

In India, STAR Movies’ live Oscars coverage was watched by a record audience. According to reports, around 3.3 million viewers tuned in, the best ever viewership for the channel in the last ten years.

The success was mainly down to the hype surrounding ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and the number of awards it was up for. The film eventually went on to win eight gongs on the night.