A documentary profiling gay Muslim transsexuals aired on Channel 4 Monday has provoked death threats aimed at the show's subjects and a war of words online.

The programme followed three British drag queens that adhere to the pillars of Islam, such as fasting during Ramadan and reading the Quran, and their struggle to cope with their taboo identities within the religion.

"There is a whole community that is living in Britain which is hidden," said Asif Quraishi, who performs by the stage name Asifa Lahore. "Now is the time to come out. You've got to be big. You've got to be bold. And you've got to have balls of steel."

Just how bold and strong he and the others need to be was demonstrated following the show as many took to Twitter and other online outlets to share their thoughts about his lifestyle as a Muslim.

"Muslim Drag Queens is misleading," said @sumaiyyahhh. "They're just drag queens. Take out the Muslim." Another user, @TheSaheel, chimed in noting "the west says Islam doesn't give women its rights, when the west confuses what a Man is and what a Woman is".

Now, and in the lead up to the show, Quraishi and the other performers have been given police protection. Last year Quraishi said he received death threats targeting his identity.

In the stage show Quraishi dresses in a burka that has rainbow colours sewn into it. He explained that its "empowering" to use "something seen as a symbol of self-oppression in the West and use it for self-expression."

The documentary gave some the bravery to speak out about their identity, albeit in a more limited way. "I am a Muslim gay drag queen and PROUD!!" wrote a user named Gay_Hussein in the UK Muslim Reddit forum HUKD. "I chose not to appear on a documentary recently televised due to fear of abuse and possible death threats to me and my family".

"There seems to be a awful lot of negative talk and homophobia towards the gay community in our country," Gay_Hussein said. "I hope more people feel braver than me to come out about their feelings Insha'Allah".

The reality is that "south Asian communities and African communities do have inherent homophobia," said Quraishi, urging that charities that support gay Muslims be given more funding.

Another reason to go public with his identity, Quraishi explained, is to push the debate "forward in faith communities themselves, where there is round-table discussions and getting our voices into mosques."

That idea could take some getting used to for many Muslims. Roshan Salih, the editor of British Muslim news website 5Pillars said the video and response to defend it show "how western liberals think they have the right to tell Muslims how to think." Rather than an anomaly, "Islam's condemnation of homosexuality is mainstream and not an extreme position" he said.

Salih pointed to a YouTube video where American Muslim scholar Dr. Yasir Qadhi says that Muslims will always oppose homosexuality on moral grounds.