The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir Ali, has announced his intention to resign from his post to help Christians living in Islamic areas.

The bishop, who has been outspoken on the topic of homosexuality, is 59 and was expected to serve until the age of 70.

He is to step down in September after working in the diocese for nearly 15 years.

The evangelical Christian said he would “find it difficult” to attend a conference last summer if senior US clergy who consecrated openly gay bishop Gene Robinson were there.

“My difficulty at the moment is not with a particular person, such as Gene Robinson, but with those who felt it right to approve and to officiate at his ordination,” he said.

“Unless they are willing to say that what they did was contrary to the Gospel, and we all of us from time to time need to repent about what we have done wrong, I would find it very difficult to be with them in a council of bishops.”

In 2006, he described same-sex weddings as “unbiblical and unworkable”.

Last year, the bishop was criticised for making inflammatory comments about the UK’s gay population.

He claimed in a newspaper article that parts of the country have become “no-go areas” because of extremist Muslims and suggested that mosques stop using speakers to broadcast the call to prayer.

However, he did not clarify where these areas were.