A Cambridge University lecturer has defended himself after video footage emerged of him calling homosexuality the "ultimate inversion" and comparing homosexuality to arson.
Tim Winter, who is the director of studies in theology at Wolfson College in Cambridge and was ranked as one of the world's most influential Muslims, refers to homosexuals as an "ignorant people" in a video which was picked up by student paper, the Cambridge Tab.
"You don't even understand what your bodies are for," Winter says in the video. "How ignorant can you get? Even the animals know. It's the ultimate inversion, an abuse of the body.
"The fact that somebody is born with a tendency is no moral argument for actualising that tendency", Winter continues. He then goes on to compare homosexuality to arson.
"Arson, for instance...is attributed by many modern scientists to a certain genetic configuration...that's no argument for legalising what they do. So the claim that a human being is born with this particular tendency [homosexuality] and so should be legalised is neither here nor there...It is no argument."
Winter, a Cambridge graduate who attended the elite Westminster School, told the Tab: "These are not ‘recent comments’ – I think this clip is from a Q+A I did after a talk in America in the mid-90s, during a fit of youthful zeal. My views and manner of exposition have moved on since then."
The professor was ranked as the 50th most influential Muslim in the world in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500, and described as "a role model for British and European Muslims". Although the video has since been removed from YouTube after a request from 52-year-old Winter, who is also known as Sheikh Abdal-Hakim Murad, it is still available on iTunes.
In an article published on Islamic website Masud Winter also calls women who star in porn films "faceless internet whores".
During an interview with the Independent, which calls Winter "Britain's most influential Muslim", he describes himself as "an academic observer who descends occcasionally from my ivory tower and visits the real world". Winter has also helped set up the Cambridge Muslim College, which aims to to produce Islamic leaders. He is also the chair of the Muslim Education Trust.
Charlie Bell, president of Cambridge student union's LGBT society, said: "[Winter] is an academic and the university has a duty to allow freedom of speech in its academical disciplines.
“We know that Mr Winter has asked for the video to be taken down; it remains for his college to decide whether these past remarks are incompatible with his current role in the college, especially if it has a pastoral nature, and we are currently in communication with them over this.
“It is our role to be a campaign open to student views and opinions, and to remind the university that whatever academical views might be expressed, LGBT+ students and staff have the same rights as any others, and should be treated with the same respect and decency as any other member of this university, by every member of this university.
“We encourage any students who do not receive this respect or who otherwise need our support to contact us.”
A Cambridge University spokesman said: "Mr Winter has apologised for these remarks, recorded nearly 20 years ago, and has emphasised that he no longer holds these views."
Winter has not made a public apology.