A panel discussion on homosexuality at a Turkish university has been cancelled following fears that it may have caught the attention of Hizbullah.

The conference at Mardin Artuklu University (MAU) in the south east of the country was condemned as “immoral” by a media outlet close to the Shi’a Islamic militant group and political party.

As well as criticising the event, the İlke Haber Ajansı (İLKHA) also took aim at organiser, academic Levent Senturk.

The event, which was due to take place on 17 April, was heavily criticised by the ILKHA, which said it coincided with the Holy Birth Week, dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad.

Following the cancellation, the website said Senturk should leave the city, and called on him to prove that he is not gay himself.

After the cancellation was confirmed, a dozen academics from the university released a statement saying that academic events should not be called off due to hate speech, slander or alienation.

“Our scientific events never insult any kind of beliefs, ethnicities, languages, religions or life styles. They do not humiliate any group of people or their values,” the statement said.

“Despite this, as we saw with the latest incident, we are targeted, insulted and threatened. No one at this institution deserves such offending treatment.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but it remains taboo.