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LONDON, July 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A popular dating show on British television will for the first time include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) contestants, more than 30 years after it was first broadcast.
The "Blind Date" episode, to air on Saturday to coincide with London's gay pride march, will feature a woman deciding between three potential female dates who are hidden from view.
LGBT rights group Stonewall said it welcomed the decision and hoped to see more television programmes featuring sexually diverse people.
"The show's commitment to inclusion is welcomed by the community, demonstrating just how far society - and LGBT representation in the media - has come," a Stonewall spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"We hope see even more shows follow Blind Date's example by helping viewers across Britain gain a better understanding of the diversity of the LGBT community," he said.
The popular dating show first aired in 1985 on the ITV network and was hosted by former singer Cilla Black, who died in 2015.
The new series was relaunched on Channel5 last month and is now presented by English entertainer Paul O'Grady.
"We wanted to be inclusive with our contestants and having LGBT representation throughout the series was really important to us from the outset, alongside maintaining the spirit and warmth of the original and much-loved format," a Channel5 spokeswoman said.
In the United States, advocacy group GLAAD said sexual diversity on U.S. television was at an all time high in 2016, with nearly 5 percent of all characters identifying as LGBT.
The group added that some TV characters and storylines still portrayed the LGBT community in a negative or stereotypical way, but noted that television was far ahead of movies in terms of representation. (Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Astrid Zweynert @azweynert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)