(Reuters) - The Kentucky Department of Corrections has dropped a policy allowing state prisons to ban inmates' mail it claimed promoted homosexuality, a spokeswoman with the department said on Wednesday.

Prison officials circulated the revised mail-censoring policy in a statewide memo last week, following an American Civil Liberties Union complaint that said the practice violated inmates' and publishers' free speech rights.

The ACLU complaint targeted Kentucky's West Liberty prison, which rejected mail at least 13 times since August for violating state policy, including popular gay and transgender-focused magazines Out and The Advocate. Neither magazine is sexually explicit in nature.

“Gay people are entitled to equal dignity, inside and outside of our nation’s prisons," said ACLU attorney Ria Tabacco Mar, who collaborated on the investigation. "This policy change is a positive step forward for prisoners in Kentucky.”

The revised mail-censuring policy, which drops specific reference to homosexuality, goes into effect immediately, corrections department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said in an email.

“Once I learned of the policy and its antiquated wording, I took steps to have it corrected,” Corrections Commissioner Rodney Ballard said in the memo. “This is how we will address any similar issue facing the department.”

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Andrew Hay)