Lesbian and gay people appear realistically and positively in just 0.6 per cent of most watched shows, according to new research by Stonewall.

The study found that gay people are almost invisible on the 20 TV programme most watched by Britain’s young people with three quarters of representation confined to just four programmes: I’m a Celebrity…, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale and How to Look Good Naked.

Just 46 minutes out of 126 hours of TV output showed gay people in a positive and realistic light with BBC1 transmitting just 44 seconds of positive portrayal in more than 39 hours of output.

BBC1’s EastEnders has an ongoing storyline, which sees muslim Syed Masood (Marc Elliot) battling with his family over his relationship with Christian Clarke (John Partridge).

Young people from across Britain interviewed by researchers said that gay people on TV are largely stereotyped, leading unhappy lives, are bullied and rejected by their families.

They also said they rely on TV to learn about gay people.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: “Of course it’s welcome that some of the most obnoxiousness unpleasantness of people such as Jeremy Clarkson is now being edited out before transmission.

“However, it’s hardly surprising that there’s still almost endemic homophobic bullying in Britain’s secondary schools when, even if gay people do appear on TV shows watched by young people, they’re depicted in a derogatory or demeaning way.

“It’s tragic that in 2010 broadcasters are still underserving young people in this way, particularly when young people themselves say they want to see real gay people’s lives on TV.”

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