Thousands have signed an online petition calling on the United Nations (UN) to rethink appointing Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa as the next President of its General Assembly.

Despite widespread criticism by human rights campaigners and politicians, Mr Kutesa is due to become president of the global parliamentary forum today.

Over 12,500 have signed a Change.org petition which calls on UN member states to put pressure on the UN to appoint someone else.

Outgoing MEP Michael Cashman, who stands down from the European Parliament early next month, has called on the UK Government to block the appointment because of Mr Kutesa’s support for Uganda’s anti-gay laws.

He said: “I urge David Cameron to speak out against his nomination and to use all tools at his disposal to prevent it.”

Last week, Mr Kutesa rejected criticism of his record. He previously claimed that the majority of Africans “abhor” homosexuality.

A Ugandan law further criminalising same-sex sexual activity, allowing repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison, was given presidential approval in February.