US TV station pulls episode over gay marriage

A public television station in the conservative southern US state of Alabama refused to broadcast an episode of the cartoon ‘Arthur’ because it depicted gay marriage.

WASHINGTON: A public television station in the conservative southern US state of Alabama refused to broadcast an episode of the cartoon “Arthur” that depicted a marriage between two same-sex characters, US media said.

“Arthur,” an American-Canadian series which first aired in 1996, tells the story of an eight-year-old aardvark, his family and friends.

In the episode “Mr Ratburn and the Special Someone,” Arthur and his friends attend the wedding of their teacher Mr Ratburn with Patrick, a chocolate-maker.

Mr Ratburn is a rat, while Patrick is a long-eared aardvark like Arthur.

Rather than broadcast the episode which aired nationally in mid-May, Alabama Public Television (APT) replaced it with a re-run.

“Although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards – parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision,” Mike McKenzie, the channel’s director of programming, was quoted by the local AL.com news website as saying.

“We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”

Alabama is in the headlines this week after passing the country’s most restrictive abortion ban.

It’s not the first time that the issue of homosexuality in a children’s program has generated controversy.

In September, a longtime writer for the beloved children’s show “Sesame Street” appeared to confirm years of speculation that the puppets Bert and Ernie were a “loving couple.”

The show’s creators denied the pair were together and the writer seemed to backtrack.