Controversial Gay Muslim Character Leaving UK Soap “EastEnders”

A gay Muslim character and his boyfriend who made headlines when their relationship was introduced on the long-running British soap EastEnders are being written out of the show reports Pink News.  The decision was made after Marc Elliott, who plays Syed Masood, decided to leave the series.

“I have had a brilliant time on EastEnders over the last three-and-a-half years and made some amazing friends,” says Elliott. “I am especially pleased that the show has tackled and raised awareness of the sensitive subject matter of being a gay Muslim…[but] as an actor you are always looking for new challenges and I feel that now is the right time to move on and explore different projects.”

John Patridge—who plays Syed’s boyfriend, Christian—has also chosen to depart the show in November. “Leaving at the same time as Marc felt like the only thing to do,” says Patridge, who is openly gay.

Syed/Christian storylines have been more complex than standard soap plots—the show has seen Syed marrying a woman to please his Muslim family, Christian beaten by homophobes on several occasions (including Syed’s father), and arguments about raising Syed’s biological daughter.

While critics and LGBT groups praised the series for featuring a prominent same-sex couple—and addressing issues of sexuality, religion and culture—some Muslim groups condemned the inclusion of a homosexual Muslim. And pop star George Michael felt the volatile, sometimes violent nature of the relationship was sending the wrong message: “[It’s] scaring the shit out of children,” said “The Crying Game” “I Want Your Sex” singer. “The relationship between Syed and Christian is the most insulting piece of bullshit on British television right now.”

Well, at least one person will be happy with this bit of news.