Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for next month’s Commonwealth heads of government meeting to discuss gay rights.

The meeting, to be held in Perth, Australia, should discuss issues such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality and legal protection from harassment, Mr Tatchell said.

Forty of the 54 Commonwealth member states retain a ban on homosexuality.

Most are African countries and include Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ghana – all of which have been accused of witchhunts against gay people.

He has written to British foreign secretary William Hague to ask him to raise the issues and lobby Australia, as the host government, to put them on the agenda.

Mr Tatchell said: “The CHOGM [Commonwealth heads of government meeting] has never even discussed – let alone declared its support for – LGBT equality and human rights.

“It is long overdue that CHOGM addressed this humanitarian issue, which it has neglected for far too long. We hope that this year’s CHOGM will end these decades of silence and inaction.”

Mr Tatchell admitted that getting the issue on the agenda is unlikely. However, he said the effort could lay the foundations for discussion in future years.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Mr Tatchell would receive a reply to his letter within ten working days.