Thursday November 9, 2017
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Actress Taraji P Henson from the TV series 'Empire' during a photocall at the 55th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco, June 15, 2015. — Reuters picActress Taraji P Henson from the TV series 'Empire' during a photocall at the 55th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco, June 15, 2015. — Reuters picLOS ANGELES, Nov 9 — The number of lesbian, gay and transgender characters on US television shows have reached record highs, and campaign group Glaad said today that their stories were more important than ever given moves in the United States to roll back LGBT acceptance.

In it annual report on diversity on the small screen, Glaad found 329 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters across all broadcast, cable and streaming TV platforms, including the first asexual and non-binary characters.

Glaad president Sarah Kate Ellis said TV was a critical place for the portrayal of LGBTQ characters and their lives.

“At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render LGBTQ people invisible, representing LGBTQ people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBTQ people stories to relate to,” Ellis said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump in July announced he would ban transgender people from serving in the US military. The White House has revoked guidance on letting transgender students use the bathroom of their choice in public schools, and Trump’s administration has said that federal law does not ban discrimination against gay employees.

The Glaad report found that LGBTQ regulars on the main US broadcast channels in TV shows like Riverdale, Empire and Designated Survivor made up 6.5 per cent of all characters, making the highest per centage in 22 years of Glaad tracking.

Netflix’s dark comedy Bojack Horseman and Freeform’s supernatural Shadowhunters brought audiences the first asexual characters on television.

Showtime financial drama Billions, Netflix and Family Channel teen drama Degrassi: The Next Class and Spike TV’s comedy Heathers all feature non-binary characters, a term used to describe those who experience their gender identity falling outside the categories of man and woman, the Glaad report said.

The emergence of new stories reflects the real world, Glaad said, citing its own research which found that 20 per cent of 18-34 year olds identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning.

The Glaad report examined original scripted series airing or which were expected to air in primetime between June 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017. — Reuters

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