Art critic Brian Sewell has complained that there are too many gay characters in British soaps and accused the BBC of spreading “sexual propaganda” to children.

Writing in today’s Daily Mail, Sewell, who has said he is bisexual, contended that the wide range of LGBT characters in soaps make “sane” viewers feel their noses are being “rubbed in it”.

The 79-year-old critic wrote: “There’s too much, not only of gay men – who are estimated to make up just six per cent of the population, but who dominate the storylines in the soap – but also of lesbians, bisexuals, the trans-gender community, cross-dressers and everyone else with some sexual quirk or fetish.”

Referring to Coronation Street, he wrote: “Is it true that the lives of heterosexual Mancunians are haplessly intertwined with transvestites, transsexuals, teenage lesbians and a horde of homosexuals across the age range? Is Manchester now the Sodom of the North?”

Sewell also accused the BBC of spreading “sexual propaganda” to “pre-pubescent children” and questioned whether gay relationships are “suitable” to be shown before the watershed.

He wrote: “The dear old egalitarian BBC protested that its policy is to portray gay and hetero- sexual relationships in exactly the same way, both equally suitable for pre-watershed viewing. But are they equally suitable?

“Are soaps, watched by pre-pubescent children — who may still have some tattered remnant of innocence that we should cherish — really a proper platform for sexual propaganda and special pleading?”

Twitter users, presumably distracted by the News of the World phone hacking scandal, have failed to display Jan Moir-esque levels of outrage.

Gay rights charity Stonewall tweeted: “Oh dear…” and a spokesman for the charity argued that Coronation Street had a representative number of gay characters.

The spokesman said: “Given that the government estimates that six per cent of the population are lesbian, gay or bisexual it isn’t inconceivable that a number of the 66 current Corrie characters are LGB.

“And with Wetherfield just a short tram ride away from Manchester it’s easy to argue the show is more reflective of modern Britain than ever before, which is why Corrie picked up Stonewall’s Broadcast of the year trophy last year and remains one of the most watched TV shows on British screens.”

Sewell, who has a reputation for controversy, said in 2007 that his interest in men is a “disability” and an “affliction”.

He has also said that “only men are capable of aesthetic greatness” and called for a “plague … to abolish the North”.