His previous films launched on a tidal wave of outrage from race-relations campaigners, Jewish groups and Kazakhstani government officials. Now, with impeccable timing, Sacha Baron Cohen has found a fresh collection of minority groups to take offence at his work.

A month before the release of his latest satirical film, the British comedian has provoked noisy complaints from America's gay rights lobby about the alleged excesses of his new alter ego: a flamboyantly homosexual fashion journalist from Austria, called Bruno. The character, who spends the film wearing mesh vests, zebra-skin underwear and leather S&M gear, is supposed to send up the ignorance and intolerance of real-life individuals he meets on a filmed journey across the US. However, he has instead been accused of promoting gay stereotypes. Several liberal groups claimed last week that Bruno's behaviour and image will actually end up promoting rather than undermining homophobia.

"Some people in our community may like this movie, but many are not going to be OK with it," was the stern prediction of Rashad Robinson, of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "Sacha Baron Cohen's well-meaning attempt at satire is problematic in many places and outright offensive in others."

Robinson is particularly troubled by a scene in which Bruno appears on a TV chat-show brandishing an adopted child dressed in a T-shirt with the logo 'gay-by'. He boasts to the seemingly-conservative studio audience that the infant is proving a highly-effective "man magnet". Also near the knuckle are scenes where the character attempts to seduce the former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (who storms out of the room muttering about "queers") .

Gay rights groups, in the midst of a battle over same-sex marriage, are concerned that US audiences will fail to appreciate the irony and instead leave the cinema with their homophobia reinforced.

Concerns are not limited to US lobby groups. Last week, the New York Times revealed that Elton John had declined to allow his track 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' to be used in a closing scene.

And certain broadcasters in Europe have taken issue with Bruno's stated intention to "be the most famous Austrian since Hitler," and "live the Austrian dream of finding a partner, buying a dungeon and starting a family".