The President of France has been criticised for moving his minister for human rights to a new department and abolishing the position.

Rama Yade has been made minister of sport.

The human rights post was created for her in 2007 when President Sarkozy took office.

“This is a political signal that the government has given up on promoting human rights as a top priority,” said Jean-Marie Fardeau, director of Human Rights Watch in France.

Ms Yade, 32, had been outspoken in her support of gay rights.

She took the lead at the United Nations calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

France submitted a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly in December. 66 countries supported it.

President Sarkozy also appointed a gay man, TV presenter Frédéric Mitterrand, as culture minister.

The 61-year-old is a nephew of the late President François Mitterrand.