Channel 4 has responded to complaints that they treat homophobia less seriously than racism in the reality TV programme Big Brother after a contestant used the word ‘poof’ for a second time.

PinkNews.co.uk readers had complained that earlier in the series the use of the word ‘nigger’ had seen one housemate removed, but the ‘poof’ incident went unpunished.

A spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “We took the initial view that Laura’s use of the word ‘poof’ in reference to Liam was not derogatory, no housemate was offended and was unlikely to cause offence to viewers.

“However, some viewers were offended and, having taken account of these concerns, we subsequently agreed with producers at Endemol to take appropriate action if there was any repeat of the comment in a similar context.

“When Laura used the word ‘poof’ a second time in a similar context in direct reference to Liam she was called into the diary room and told that the use of such language was potentially offensive and therefore unacceptable.

“The incident was shown as part of last night’s edition of Big Brother.

Contestant Laura had used the homophobic word in front of a gay housemate, Gerry, last night.

She questioned wheter it was an acceptable word for her to use, but Gerry told her it was ‘fine.’

In the diary room Laura accepted that the word was offensive.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said they had taken account of complaints from viewers.