Iqra – played by actress Priya Davdra – will come out as gay in a storyline this summer, after it’s revealed that she’s been sending flirtatious messages to other women.
A source told The Sun: “Iqra has been fighting to keep her sexuality quiet, but eventually the truth will emerge.” The character won’t be the show’s first gay Muslim, but she will be the first Muslim lesbian.
It was announced earlier this year that Eastenders would introduce a queer bar in order to reflect London’s diversity.
Kate Oates, the show’s new senior executive producer, told The Sun: “I’m really interested in bringing some more LGBTQ characters in. We’re looking at opening a gay bar on the Square which will be a super-cool precinct where gay and straight characters can all just hang out.
“It should be something really exciting, really fun, really visual and feel really true to multi-cultural London. It’s an important move for the show to authentically reflect modern London life.”
In 1987, Eastenders featured its first ever gay kiss between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and Barry Clark (Gary Hailes), but it was just a peck on the forehead.
Two years later, the series aired its first mouth-to-mouth kiss between Russell and Guido Smith (Nicholas Donovan). At the time, both scenes were criticised. Ever since, the show has introduced many more LGBTQ characters, most notably Christian Clarke (John Partridge), Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid), Paul Coker (Jonnh Labey), Irene Mills (Melanie Kilburn) and Kyle Slater (Riley Carter Millington).
Later this year, Eastenders will air its first ever Pride march. “It’s going to be a huge event on the square filled with joy,” a source told The Sun. “Kate thought that with Walford’s London identity it was a natural fit to tie in the two.
“But, as with any event on Albert Square, there is certain to be plenty of drama happening alongside the celebration.”
A spokesperson for Stonewall said: “It’s been more than 30 years since EastEnders featured the UK’s first on-screen same-sex kiss. So it’s great to hear Walford will be celebrating Pride.”