Revelations that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has agreed to combat homophobia in the Muslim community have been “warmly welcomed” by OutRage!, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human rights group.

MCB policy advisor, Muhammed Aziz, revealed a five-year plan against homophobia in an interview with PinkNews.co.uk last week.

“This u-turn is a positive, hopeful sign that the gay and Muslim communities can work together to challenge the twin evils of homophobia and Islamophobia,” said Aaron Saeed, OutRage!’s Muslim Affairs spokesperson.

“The MCB’s policy shift follows discreet contact by gay rights groups OutRage! and Stonewall. It comes three months after MCB leader, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, was heavily criticised for anti-gay remarks on the BBC’s PM programme,” said Mr Saeed

It is understood that the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) will facilitate dialogue between the MCB and the gay community.

“This change of heart is fantastic. The MCB’s past opposition to gay human rights has been very hurtful. We were saddened to see the MCB campaigning to retain the notorious Section 28, and distressed by its attacks on same-sex parents and civil partnerships. We hope the MCB’s

support for homophobic discrimination is now a thing of the past and that we can move forward together,” said Mr Saeed.

Peter Tatchell of OutRage! echoed Mr Saeed’s welcome: “We salute Mr Aziz and the MCB for their commitment to tackle homophobia and establish dialogue with the gay community. We look forward to constructive engagement with the MCB.”

The MCB’s move was also praised by Brett Lock, OutRage!’s campaign organiser: “In February, a gay Muslim asylum seeker from Sudan, Nahi Mudwai, committed suicide by jumping into the Thames after his family’s homophobia drove him to despair. Thousands of young gay people from religious families, not only Muslim, of course, experience rejection and depression because of faith-inspired homophobia.

“We applauded the MCB for its decision to combat anti-gay attitudes,” said Mr Lock.

Commenting on the homophobic comments of MCB leader, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, made earlier this year on the BBC, Mr Lock added: “Sir Iqbal’s condemnation of gay people as socially destructive spreaders of disease was deeply offensive. “We hope Sir Iqbal will be part of this dialogue and that he will signal the resolve of the entire MCB leadership to join the fight homophobia.

“OutRage! reaffirms its commitment to challenge racism and Islamophobia. We oppose all forms of hatred and discrimination,” said Mr Lock.