Syed (Marc Elliot) and Christian (John Partridge)

The BBC has defended its broadcast of a gay bedroom scene in the soap series EastEnders after receiving around 125 complaints from viewers.

The scene featured the characters of Christian (John Partridge) and Syed (Marc Elliot), who are engaged in the show’s storyline, cuddling in bed together. They were topless but covered by sheets in the scene.

EastEnders aims to reflect real life, and this means including and telling stories about characters from many different backgrounds, faiths, religions and sexualities,” said the BBC in a statement.

“We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in exactly the same way as we do heterosexual relationships, ensuring depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing.”

It added that “the BBC cannot discriminate by treating gay characters differently to heterosexual characters”.

The BBC noted that it had also “received a lot of very positive feedback about the storyline regarding Christian and Syed’s relationship”.

The first kiss between Christian and Syed, which was screened in 2009, was watched by 7.9 million viewers on BBC1.

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