Executives at Channel 4 are bracing themselves for a backlash against a programme showing gay and lesbian Muslims.

A Jihad for Love will be aired tonight on More 4 and shows gay Muslims kissing, holding hands and discussing getting married.

Its director, Parvez Sharma, said: “I have had death threats on my blog after making this film. Some countries have even banned it.

“I’ve been called an apostate because Muslims think I have insulted Islam but I think it will open up a debate.”

Islamic leaders in the UK have called the documentary offensive, adding it will anger Muslims.

An Imam from Europe’s largest mosque, the Baitul Futuh in Surrey, condemned the film last night.

“These people should not be confessing their sins to the television cameras,” he told the Daily Star.

“They should be doing it in private to God and seeking forgiveness.”

Channel 4 has defended the programme.

A spokeswoman said: “This is a sensitively made documentary that has played to critical acclaim at film festivals internationally and is a legitimate area for a documentary film-maker to explore.”

Channel 4 have broadcast a number of films addressing the issues of homosexuality and Islam.

In September, it screened the Dispatches documentary Undercover Mosque: The Return.

It featured a female reporter attending prayer meetings at an important British mosque which claims to be dedicated to moderation and dialogue with other faiths.

She secretly filmed sermons given to the women-only congregation in which female preachers recited extremist and intolerant beliefs.

One preacher called for adulterers, homosexuals, women who act like men and Muslim converts to other faiths to be killed, saying: “Kill him, kill him. You have to kill him, you understand. This is Islam.”

The original January 2007 Undercover Mosque documentary showed preacher Abu Usamah at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham calling for gay people to be executed.

“If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?” he told followers.

A scene also showed a preacher calling for people to “take that homosexual and throw him off a mountain.”