The BBC has received complaints after broadcasting a same-sex kiss in a drama aimed at teenage viewers.
The kiss involved two characters, Jude and Cleo, in the CBBC drama The Next Step, made by the Boatrocker production company.
The scene appeared in season 7 of the Canadian mockumentary in an episode called 'Room Service'. The popular show follows the lives of the A-Troupe dancers as they train at The Next Step Dance Studio.
The BBC did not disclose how many complaints it had received but issued a lengthy statement on its website defending the scene, which it denied was inappropriate for young audiences.
"The decision to include this moment, as part of a longer storyline throughout series 7 which has been tracking the development of a romantic relationship between two of the characters, Jude and Cleo, was taken very carefully and with much consideration, and came about after CBBC and Boatrocker (the production company who make the show) acknowledged that the series could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people," the BBC said.
"This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be.
"We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude & Cleo's developing relationship and I'm afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age – CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like."
Metro.co.uk reported that the BBC "will have received more than 100" complaints to trigger such a statement.
The BBC has steadily expanded the number of children's shows depicting same-sex relationships. Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad have all portrayed same-sex relationships.
The first same-sex kiss to appear in a CBBC show was in the children's drama Byker Grove in 1994.