The producers behind the UK’s latest Big Brother series, which is broadcast on Channel Four, have been accused of hypocrisy for not taking action against a housemate using homophobic language.

“Channel Four is guilty of double standards and bias. It doesn’t take homophobic language as seriously as racist language,” said Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for LGBTI human rights group OutRage!

He was commenting on the recent Big Brother controversy over the use of the word “poof” by housemate Laura. While another housemate, Emily, was earlier ousted from the Big Brother house for using the word n*gger, Laura is still inside – despite using the word poof not once, but three times.

“The context and manner in which both words were spoken was fairly similar. They were not expressed in a hateful or angry way. But Channel Four has responded very differently,” said Tatchell.

While he believes that neither women should have been disciplined because they didn’t use these words in a deliberately abusive manner, Tatachel says that, “The double-standards adopted by Channel Four prove that gay people are still treated as second class citizens.”

Channel 4 has since responded to the complaint that they treat homophobia less seriously than racism. A spokesperson told that, “We took the initial view that Laura’s use of the word ‘poof’ in reference to Liam was not derogatory, no housemate was offended and was unlikely to cause offence to viewers.”

The spokesperson added that, “However, some viewers were offended and, having taken account of these concerns, we subsequently agreed with producers at Endemol to take appropriate action if there was any repeat of the comment in a similar context.”

In January, the celebrity version of the UK Big Brother created to an international incident when contestant Jade Goody made racist comments about a fellow housemate, the Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.

Update – 09/07/07: Housemate Laura was voted out of the Big Brother house on Sunday. She received 66 percent of the public vote.

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