The government will cut aid to poor countries which persecute gay people, international development secretary Andrew Mitchell has warned.

Aid ‘fines’ may be imposed on countries such as Uganda and Ghana for hardline anti-gay laws, the Mail on Sunday reported.

Malawi, which sentenced a couple to 14 years’ hard labour for contravening anti-gay laws, has already had its aid cut by £19 million.

A spokesman for Mr Mitchell told the newspaper that the government now regularly reviews aid-receiving countries on their commitments to human rights.

He said: “The government is committed to combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all circumstances, in this country and abroad. We take action where we have concerns.

“We now allocate funds every three months, rather than every year, so that we can review a country’s performance, for example on human rights, and take swift action when governments fall short. We only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty and respect human rights.”

Prime minister David Cameron has defended Britain’s spending on foreign aid, saying that increasing the budget from £7.5 billion last year to £11.4 billion in 2013 is a sign of “moral strength”.

In Ghana, a government minister recently called for the arrest of all gay people in the country’s western region. This followed president John Evans Atta Mills’ pledge to curb the “menace” of homosexuality.

Mr Mitchell’s deputy Stephen O’Brien told the president earlier this year that Ghana would lose its £36 million a year from Britain unless he stops persecuting gay people.

Uganda, which expects to receive £70 million this year from Britain, has been considering legislation to strengthen current laws against gay people.

The harshest provisions call for the death penalty in “aggravated” cases of homosexuality, although parliament appears to have shelved the bill.