Out gay actor Sir Ian McKellen is supporting an anti-hate project by a group of gay and lesbian Merseyside teenagers which is being rolled out to 100 schools and youth centres across Liverpool.

The star of Lord of the Rings and X-Men is backing Project Triangle, a social justice scheme devised and led by Homotopia, Liverpool’s LGBT arts and culture group.

Last year, ten LGBT teenagers from Liverpool and Knowsley travelled to Auschwitz -Birkenau to see first hand the effects of hate crime.

Their trip, funded by a government grant, has been turned into a documentary and education pack to inform young people about homophobic bullying and hate crime, and the parallels with other forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Sir Ian said: “I fully support Homotopia’s determination to tackle the violence which defaces the reputation of Liverpool as a friendly, inclusive community. Homophobia, in all its manifestations, should always be challenged. We are all different, thank goodness: we all deserve to be treated equally with respect.”

Gary Everett, the director of Homotopia, added: “It’s great news that Ian McKellen has recognised our commitment to challenging homophobia and hate crime. He is only one of a few leading actors who are brave enough to be open about their sexuality, which even in 2010, still causes anguish and uncertainty for many in the public eye.”