STUDENTS at Bradford College were visited by a campaigner raising awareness of religious homophobia.

Matt Ogston addressed a packed lecture theatre today, delivering a talk about his experiences of the problem.

He set up the Naz and Matt Foundation following the death of his partner of 13 years and fiancé, Nazim Mahmood, who committed suicide 48 hours after coming out as gay to his deeply religious Muslim family two years ago.

The charity aims to raise awareness of homophobia in all religions and encourages people to discuss sexuality in different sections of the community to help people understand it is normal.

Addressing the room, Mr Ogston spoke about how religion affects people and can lead to young people committing suicide because of their sexuality.

“I want to use my life to help other people find the strength to come out to their families and live happy lives.

“I hope if the young people who were in the audience are personally affected by what we talked about, they understand they are not alone and there are people who can help them find answers and strength.

“This subject is often seen as taboo but I came here to show people there is support out there, and I want to thank Bradford College for inviting me here.

“We would like to see the college continue talking about this topic, and we will support them in doing so.

“These young people have the chance to change how people see homosexuality and I look forward to coming back to Bradford to keep on spreading the message.”

Mr Ogston was joined by Ahmer Bashir from Project Light UK, a Bradford-based group which aims to tackle religious homophobia through art, storytelling and poetry.

Mr Bashir emphasised how “love supersedes all religions” and encouraged people who feel vulnerable, confused or scared about their sexuality to contact the group.

Lenka Kaur, the inclusion and diversity coordinator at Bradford College, thanked Mr Ogston for visiting.

“Hopefully the talk will make students think about what is quite a difficult subject, especially here in Bradford,” she said.

“We need to have this conversation, and by hearing Matt speak about his experiences it will open doors for people to have this conversation in a safe environment, and make people aware of what support is available to them.”

There will be a Question Time-style debate at the College at 6pm tomorrow which Mr Ogston will also be involved in.