Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Sunday, 13 July 2008 14:22 UK

McKellen describes death threats

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian is supporting openly gay US Bishop Gene Robinson

Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen says he has received death threats in the past because of his sexuality.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the actor, who came out in 1988, said the number of threats had "declined considerably" in recent years.

"I think I've become rather boring to the public at large on this particular issue," he said.

Sir Ian is supporting gay US bishop Gene Robinson, who has been excluded from an Anglican Church convention.

The American preacher has not been invited to the Lambeth Conference, held every 10 years, but has said he will be in Canterbury, where it is taking place, at the same time.

Sir Ian told the BBC that, like Bishop Robinson, he had received death threats - and argued that Britain was still intolerant of homosexuality.

"There are deaths in public places on the grounds that the victim is gay," he said.

"There is violence of language which can be related to violence in action."

On Sunday Bishop Robinson will attend the screening of a film about how the Bible can be used to combat homophobia, and will hold a question and answer session with Sir Ian.

The Lambeth Conference begins on Wednesday.

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