The leader of Ghana’s only gay rights group has urged the government not to cut aid to homophobic countries.

International development secretary Andrew Mitchell warned this week that countries with harsh anti-gay laws – such as Ghana and Uganda – could have their aid budgets cut if they continue to persecute LGBT people.

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

Mac-Darling Cobbinah, the executive and national director of the Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana, said the move would only bring “pain and anguish” to the struggling country.

He added that the plans could backfire and lead to gay people being blamed for aid cuts.

Speaking to Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum News, Mr Cobbinah said: “We from Ghana LGBTi community think this is not enough. Cutting down aid will not bring anything other than pain and anguish to the already polarised society or country and LGBTi people will be used as scapegoats for under development in our countries.

“There should be support for LGBTi groups to conduct more education to get people to know and understand sexuality and gender diversity instead of aid cuts. The UK should lead the way by supporting LGBTi groups in these countries to organise more awareness programmes and talk shows to get the majority of the people to understand the issues of LGBTi rights.”

He added: “We do not want to leave to Europe for asylum and so want to live here and improve the lives of our people here. We need more than just speeches.”

Ghana receives £36 million a year in aid from the UK.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Mitchell’s deputy Stephen O’Brien told president John Evans Atta Mills earlier this year that the country would lose funding from Britain unless he stops persecuting gay people.