CHANNEL 4 has admitted to editing the word "gay" out of an episode of The Simpsons in an "overly cautious' move."
The term was removed from a lunchtime episode after the broadcaster deemed that it was not suitable for a daytime audience.
The line was cut from a 1994 episode called "Homer Loves Flanders" which aired just before 1pm last Sunday.
In the episode Homer Simpson goes to an American football match with his God-fearing neighbour Ned Flanders but is initially embarrassed to be seen with him.
The pair bond and Homer yells: "I want everyone to know that this is Ned Flanders ... my friend!" His workmates Lenny and Carl overhear him and Lenny says: "What d'he say?"
Originally Carl replies: "I dunno. Somethin' about being gay."
But on Sunday his line was cut and the episode switched to advertisements after Lenny speaks.
Channel 4 told The Independent that the mistake was caused by an overly cautious compliance checker.
All Simpsons episodes broadcast before 6pm are checked by its compliance department for any unsuitable content.
A spokesperson said: "We always carefully consider the context in which language is used in our programming."
"However in this instance the episode was edited in error as neither the word nor the context was unsuitable."
"Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator says there is no evidence to conclude that the word "gay" is "necessarily and automatically intended to be, or is, offensive."
The term is viewed as offensive when employed in a context that "results in a negative portrayal of homosexual men and women."
In May 2006, Radio 1 presenter Chris Moyles was accused of being homophobic after he dismissed a ringtone, saying “I don’t want that one, it’s gay.”
the BBC received a number of complaints but defended Moyles, arguing that "the word 'gay', in addition to being used to mean ‘homosexual' or 'carefree', was often used to mean 'lame' or 'rubbish'."
Lucy Kinder, Telegraph.co.uk