Prime minister Gordon Brown has said he is pushing European countries such as Spain and France to recognise civil partnerships registered in Britain.

Speaking to Johann Hari for an interview in Attitude magazine, Brown said he was negotiating deals with those two countries but wanted to see gay rights recognition spread to “eastern Europe as well as western Europe”.

He said: “We want countries where that hasn’t been the case – especially in eastern Europe – to recognise them. We’re negotiating agreements with France and then with Spain.

“But I think we can actually go further than that. And if we could show eastern Europe as well as western Europe, that this respect for gay people is due, that would be really important.

“Of course it will be tough, and will take many years, but that has never ever been a good reason not to fight.”

The magazine also questioned why he had missed several crucial votes on gay rights in the early years of the current Labour government.

Brown said he had presumably been busy with Treasury business while the votes were taking place but added: “I’ve always given my strong support.”

The prime minister said he would not cut aid funding to Uganda, despite a bill passing through parliament designed to punish homosexuality.

He said: “The point about aid is that it saves lives.”

Attitude is out now.