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Melbourne bishop joins calls to remove gays from prime-time TV

Bishop Christopher Prowse has echoed the voices of other moral authorities in the community worried about the increasing prevalence of gay characters on prime-time television.

Auxiliary Bishop Prowse told the Sunday Herald-Sun that showing same-sex relationships as equal to marriages "could undermine society".

Other opinion leaders surveyed by the paper include prominent Catholic lay woman Babette Francis, who suggested viewers should use their power to persuade TV programmers to take the characters off air.

The outcry comes as the soap opera Neighbours, aired at 6:30 pm, prepares to introduce its first gay character, a lesbian schoolgirl Lana Crawford, played by Bridget Neval (pictured).

The Herald-Sun reports that The Simpsons is also to introduce a gay character and, in the new series of Six Feet Under, one of the main characters has a lesbian relationship. New reality show Playing It Straight -- where a barmaid has to choose between 12 males, six of them secretly gay -- aired on Thursday. In May Play School showed a child with two mums, two gay couples have proved popular on renovation program The Block, and the gay style gurus on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have taken TV by storm.

Other mainstream shows including ER and All Saints have introduced gay characters. And hip series such as The L Word and Queer as Folk have been devoted to the lives of pretty young gays.

Australian Family Association spokesman Bill Muehlenberg said: "Only about 1.5% of the population is gay, but it is hard to find a show without a mandatory gay character.

"To have it on at 6.30pm, on a show like Neighbours which is hugely popular with children, is sending the wrong messages. Homosexuality is a high-risk lifestyle and to make it look cool is wrong."

Prime time gay deluge (Sunday Herald-Sun 12/9/04)

New film about 'ex-homosexuals' to premiere on 'Coming Out Day' (Catholic News Agency 10/9/04)
Sister Jeannine Gramick (ABC Radio Life Matters 13/9/04)
Homosexuals ruled a protected class, akin to race (Catholic World News 10/9/04)
Neighbours 'Lesbian Lover' (

13 Sep 2004