The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has backed comments from Sir Elton John after he claimed that religion promotes the hatred of gays.

The gay singing legend launched an attack on religion last weekend accusing it of promoting homophobia and suggested that it should be banned.

He told the Observer Music Monthly: “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.

“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion. From my point of view I would ban religion completely.”

Commenting on Sir Elton’s remarks, GALHA’s secretary George Broadhead said there is some truth behind them, “It should be quite clear to anyone that these days most hostility to gay relationships and gay rights comes from religious sources, notably Evangelical Anglicans, Christian pressure groups like the Christian Institute, the Vatican, and Islamic organisations.

“Hardly a day passes without some anti-gay proclamations, fatwa or edict being issued by one religious leader or another. Religionists are campaigning against our human rights, peddling their bigotry, telling us we’re sick, diseased, perverted and destined for hell-fire, or promoting quack therapies to ‘cure’ us.

However, he said Sir Elton’s suggestion that religion be banned is unworkable, “Any attempt to ban it would simply make it stronger and more determined.

“The right approach is to argue and debate and try to convince religious believers that they are wrong when it comes to gays. But while we believe that all of them – the pastors, the Pope and the imams – are entitled to express their views, they should not be permitted by law to impose them on others, which is what they are trying to do at present,” he said.

The comments have been opposed by gay Christian groups, Reverend Giles Fraser from the Inclusive Church, a pro-gay Church of England Group, told the Press Association: “It reflects the fact that members of the gay community think the church is deeply hostile to them and to their interests.

“I’m sad because it deepens the perception that the church is intrinsically homophobic.”

He disagreed with claims that religion is homophobic, “I don’t believe it is homophobic, I believe that’s a mistaken interpretation and (his comments) don’t help those struggling to change that perception of homophobia,” he said.

In the interview, Sir Elton pledged to continue supporting gay rights campaigns after recently donating funds to Wisconsin’s attempt to stop the introduction of a gay marriage ban in the state last week. “I’m going to fight for them whether I do it silently behind the scenes or so vocally that I get locked up. I can’t just sit back; it’s not in my nature any more. I’m nearly 60-years-old after all. I can’t sit back and blindly ignore it and I won’t.”