The Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have succeeded in forcing a theatre company into closing its production of Corpus Christi, which portrays Jesus Christ as a gay man.

Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, directed by Albania-born Laertis Vasiliou, had been staged at the Hytirio theatre in central Athens for the past three weeks.

Last month Ilias Panagiotaros, a Golden Dawn MP, was captured shouting homophobic and racist insults at Mr Vasiliou in a violent protest.

In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Mr Panagiotaros defended his actions and said Greece is ready for a “civil war”.

Golden Dawn has been on the ascendancy since June’s election and its supporters have been linked to a significant number of attacks on migrant workers, rival political groups and LGBT citizens.

On Thursday, a statement from the play’s organisers said:

“We tried to go on with the play for three weeks. It was not possible… continuing as if nothing is happening is not a solution”.

The statement added: “It was not our intention to provoke ‘religious sentiment’ or to create tensions”.

Religious protests argued its portrayal of Jesus Christ as a gay man amounted to blasphemy.