British Prime Minister David Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron has committed his government to continue to put pressure on African governments to improve the lives of LGBT people on the continent.

Cameron was speaking at an annual reception for the gay community at 10 Downing Street in London. The event was focused on homophobia in sport and featured high profile LGBT guests, activists and allies.

These included lesbian tennis legend Billie Jean King, openly-gay ruby player Gareth Thomas and former rugby player and current anti-homophobia campaigner Ben Cohen.

In his speech, Cameron addressed the government’s recent successes in LGBT equality including legislation allowing for civil partnerships to take place in religious institutions, as well as clearing the names of gay men who had past criminal records for consensual gay sex.

He also commented that there were too few openly gay role models in the sporting world and called for an end to homophobia in the field.

The UK has the ability to speak to African leaders

Turning to the rest of the world, he said that “gay people can be appallingly treated in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa”.

He said that this was an area in which “we have the ability to make progress” and that thanks to the UK’s spending on international aid it has “some moral authority in the world to talk to other leaders and governments about our relationship with them and what we expect from them”.

Cameron noted that his government put “huge pressure on the leader of Malawi” about the December 2009 arrest of Tiwonge Chimbalanga Steven Monjeza on charges of homosexuality, resulting in their subsequent release.

He added: “I’m convinced we can do more. We have got the ability to speak to African leaders, African governments, about this issue that I know concerns everyone here tonight. And it concerns me.”

Cameron did not address mounting criticism about the insensitive manner in which the UK handles LGBT asylum seekers who fear discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation if returned to their repressive homelands.

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