Greek state television has come under fire for editing out a gay kiss on the premiere of the British period drama Downton Abbey.

According to Reuters, viewers took to social networking sites including Twitter on Monday to complain about the NET channel’s decision to axe a scene from episode one of the first series, which is now being shown in the country.

The episode in question shows actor Rob James-Collier, who plays Thomas the footman in Downton Abbey, kissing a visiting duke.

However, the decision to edit out the scene has caused widespread anger.

Greece’s left-wing Syriza party said in a statement: “As incredible as it may seem for a democratic country in the 21st century, officials of the NET television channel censored the scene of a kiss between men from the TV drama Downton Abbey.”

It described the decision as amounting to “an extreme act of homophobia and discrimination”.

Dimitris Papadimoulis, a Syriza party MP, suggested it was due to pressure from Golden Dawn – a far-right party.

However, Costas Spyropoulos, managing director of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, sought to deny accusations of homophobia and said:

“The kiss was not shown because of the time the programme was broadcast and the corresponding parental guidance warnings.”

It’s understood an unedited version will be broadcast later on Tuesday night.