Coronation Street star Bhavna Limbachia has said the Kana storyline is not there to offend people but to educate and spark conversation.
The actress is playing the soap’s first gay Muslim character, Rana Nazir, who has fallen in love with Kate Connor, played by Faye Brookes.
She told BBC Breakfast: “I felt such a huge responsibility to get the story right so I went away and did a lot of research, even though it was a big weight on my shoulders I just wanted to make sure I did the storyline justice.”
She was joined by Matt Ogston, whose partner Naz took his own life after he was confronted by his parents about his sexuality and who has set up the Naz & Matt Foundation to tackle homophobia.
Limbachia said: “Doing the research and reading articles online, reading stories about Naz was so heartbreaking. That is when I realised that we have got this amazing platform at Coronation Street to raise awareness.
“That is when we ended up getting in touch and discussed at length different stories that had come from the charity and the things that people are faced with and trying to reflect that and hold the mirror up to society and say this is happening, it’s 2018, it’s still a taboo subject and we want to make sure we shine light on that and spark conversation.”
Asked if she had been worried about the response from the Asian community, she said: “Yes I was but I felt that if we played the truth of what is happening in society, the storyline is there not to offend people, it’s to educate them, it’s to spark conversation so it’s there to make people aware that there is support available.”
Ogston said he believes his fiance would have been happy with the work done by the foundation.
He said: “He was a GP, that was his profession, he was a doctor, he spent his whole life helping other people, so I think that any work that we do that can help other people is really important and I think he would be very supportive of that.
“Because of the Coronation Street storyline we have had quite a volume of people contact us and many people sharing their own stories, some people actually asking us for support and help with situations with their own family or with friends.”
Coronation Street continues on ITV at 7.30pm.