New research commissioned by The Movement for Reform Judaism, which represents around a quarter of Britain’s affiliated Jews, has revealed most British people think religions discriminate against gay people.

56% of the 1,050 people interviewed agreed with the statement that all religions fundamentally discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. 26% disagreed and 18%  said they didn’t know.

62% disagreed with the contention that religion has no place in modern life. 29% agreed.

The survey of 1,050 people was conducted by polling company Populus on behalf of the Movement for Reform Judaism.

“It is clear from these findings that religion is going to continue to play a prominent part in public life for many years to come,” said Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis.

“It is therefore crucially important that, in equality terms – whether it be with respect to gender or sexual orientation – religious leaders set the best possible example.

“The Movement for Reform Judaism, which has as one of its central tenets a commitment to equality, clearly needs to do more to promote its views.

“There will be many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews out there who remain committed to their faith.

“In terms of actual practice and beliefs, Reform Judaism is their natural home.”

Last week the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s 2008 report on state-sponsored homophobia found that to be lesbian or gay risks jail time in 86 countries and death penalty in seven.

“Whether exported by colonial empires or the result of legislations culturally shaped by religious beliefs, if not deriving directly from a conservative interpretation of religious texts, homophobic laws are the fruit of a certain time and context in history,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, co-secretary general of ILGA.

“Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens needs to hide from the rest of the population out of fear.

“A culture where hatred and violence are justified by the state and force people into invisibility or into denying who they truly are.

“Homophobia is cultural. Homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are not inborn. People learn them as they grow.”