Bangladesh’s only Nobel prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, has been lambasted for supporting gay rights by state-backed religious hard-liners.

The Islamic Foundation, a government religious body, has called for mass protests to be held against Mr Yunus on Thursday 31 October.

The perceived crime of the 73-year-old was to sign a joint statement along with three other Nobel laureates in April 2012 criticising the prosecution of gay people in Uganda.

Sara Hossain, a top lawyer and LGBT rights activist, told AFP: “It’s unfortunate that he’s facing the kind of campaign that I faced in 1994,” she added: “I was forced to leave the country because of the campaign by the fundamentalists, which the then government actively supported.”

As a professor of economics, Mr Yunus developed the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006 Mr Yunus and Grameen Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below”.

Critics of Mr Yunus have accused him of “sucking the blood” from the poor.