Electronic Arts (EA) is being thanked for including gay themes in its games after social conservatives launched a campaign to pressure the gamemaker to drop gay characters.

Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative Family Research Council (FRC), is among those criticizing EA for allowing players to enter gay relationships in the video games Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3.

“In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!” Perkins said in a January radio bulletin.

The Florida Family Association has also called on members to complain to EA.

“LGBT extremists pressure Star Wars video game maker to commit to add LGBT content and censor critics,” the group said on its website. “An overwhelming percentage of the 1.7 million games sold are being used by children who do not need to be introduced to this propaganda.”

“If BioWare … adds LGBT characters for kids to select as their action character it could be something like Darth RuPaula, a combination of Darth Vader, one of the most popular Star Wars characters, and RuPaul, the renown transgender cross dresser,” the group added.

EA Vice President of Corporate Communications Jeff Brown called the campaign “political harassment” and defended the company's actions.

“[W]e do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don't tolerate hate speech on our forums,” Brown told GameIndustry.biz.

In response, gay rights advocate AllOut.org launched a petition on its website “demanding Electronic Arts resist the power of the Dark Side.”

“Electronic Arts customers are speaking out loud and clear: Being for equality is good for business. Groups like the Family Research Council are truly on the 'dark side' – they put pressure on companies like EA to block fair, balanced portrayals of gay characters in gaming and other media. You don't have to be a gamer to understand that it makes a real difference for Electronic Arts to present positive portrayals of gays and lesbians to its community of 100 million players,” said Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut.org.

AllOut.org said on Tuesday that it was forced to disable its online petition two days after being posted due to a spam attack. Before the action, more than 68,600 people had joined in thanking EA for standing up against homophobia.