Sunday, February 14, 1999 Published at 11:40 GMT
World: South Asia
India approves lesbian film
Protesters have torn down posters for the film
The Indian Government has accepted a decision by censors to allow a controversial film about a lesbian relationship to be screened without any cuts.
The internationally-acclaimed film, Fire, provoked violent protests from Hindu militants when it was first shown last year, prompting the government to refer it back to the censors in December.
Activists from the right-wing ultra-nationalist Hindu party, Shiv Sena, attacked a number of cinemas showing the film last year, including some in the capital, Delhi and in Bombay.
The Shiv Sena is a regional ally of the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's BJP.
'Affront' to Hindu culture
The party said the film was an affront to India's centuries-old Hindu culture. It said it was immoral and a bad influence on the youth.
There were also rival protests by lesbian and women's rights groups demanding that the film be shown uncut.
Several leading Hindi film personalities subsequently appealed to India's Supreme Court, which did not rule on the censorship issue but ordered government protection for the director and actors.
The film - by the Canadian-based Indian director, Deepa Mehta - depicts the sexual relationship of two women trapped in unhappy marriages.
The BBC Correspondent in Bombay, Sanjeev Srivastava, says a second certificate from the Censor Board is unlikely to change the situation much on the ground in Bombay and observers expect another round of confrontation if the film is re-released.
The decision to allow the film to be screened uncut has been described by Shiv Sena as "unfortunate."
However, it has been welcomed by the Indian film industry.
India's Film Censor Board routinely orders cuts of sexually suggestive scenes in Hindi-language films, but in the past has generally allowed English-language films to be screened uncensored.