Several nations with sizable gay communities have not signed up to a declaration on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN this month.

The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States.

Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.

Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.

He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.

In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter.

France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation.

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

More than 50 nations have signed up to support the initiative, but the Vatican has attacked it and claims that as many countries have not signed up, it they are in the right.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a Vatican spokesman said earlier this week.

The Holy See does not have a vote at the UN, but its observer has tried to claim that “states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” as a result of the declaration.

Mr Tin said:

“If your government has not yet signed the text, and if you think it is relevant to ask them, you could then lobby the Foreign Ministry in your capital.

“It might be also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador at the United Nations.

“You can explain that it is a declaration (it is not compelling), it is only about decriminalising homosexuality (there is no link with marriage) and that more than 50 countries have already signed.

“If your government has already signed the text, you may ask them to contact other close friend states. For instance, Canada and UK might contact other countries of the Commonwealth, Mexico and Spain might contact other countries of Latin America.”