Italy’s national broadcaster has said it will show gay cowboy love story Brokeback Mountain in full after it came under fire for broadcasting a cut version.

RAI Due, a state TV channel, said the cut version, which removed a scene where actors Jake Gyllenhall and the late Heath Ledger kiss and another where they make love in a tent, had been supplied by the distributor for use before the watershed.

“Since it went out after the watershed we could have shown the full version but did not have the copy,” said RAI director general Claudio Cappon.

He said the full version would be shown at a later date.

Gay rights activists in Italy are unimpressed.

“The need to change a film about homosexual love into a film about simple male friendship says a lot about the current cultural climate,” said Franco Grillini, an MP and leading LGBT rights activist.

“What was so touching about that film were the scenes of affection that RAI Due brutally cut, distorting the sense of the film and transforming a great homosexual love story into a simple friendship between men.”

Aurelio Mancuso, head of gay group Arcigay, said: ”Public service television cannot in any way support the homophobia rampant in this country.”

Hundreds of people protested outside the Vatican City on Saturday in support of a declaration calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN next week.

Some wore a noose around their neck, others held candles and displayed rainbow flags.

They were protesting the Vatican’s hostile stance towards the declaration, which is being presented by France on behalf of the EU.

Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the UN, said last week that the declaration could be used to force countries to recognise same-sex marriage.

“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” he said.

“For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”

There were a series of other rallies across Italy – Acrigay said they hoped to start a constructive dialogue with the “community of believers who, as many polls confirm, disagree with the Holy See position.”

Brokeback Mountain was perhaps one of the most critically acclaimed mainstream films with a gay theme.

Released in 2005, it was directed by Ang Lee and adapted from a short story by Annie Proulx.

Heath Ledger and co-star Gyllenhall play two cowboys in rural 1960s America who embark on a clandestine gay relationship.

Mr Ledger, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, died of an accidental drug overdose in New York earlier this year.

The readers of gay entertainment website AfterElton.com chose Brokeback Mountain as the Greatest Gay Movie Of All Time earlier this year.