Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he does not expect Sam Kutesa to promote anti-gay “policies” as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The 65-year-old Ugandan Foreign Minister was the unanimous choice of the presiding Africa block on Wednesday evening – despite a petition against his appointment signed by more than 13,000 people.

Mr Kutesa previously claimed that the majority of Africans “abhor” homosexuality.

He strongly support’s Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The law, introduced in February, further criminalises same-sex sexual activity and allows repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Ex-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked about Mr Kutesa in a Newsnight interview.

Speaking yesterday evening ahead of Mr Kutesa’s confirmation, Mr Annan said: “I do not expect him to promote those kinds of policies in the General Assembly”.

The 76-year-old Ghanaian diplomat admitted the controversy was embarrassing for the United Nations.

He told presenter Emily Maitlis: “But I see the point you are making that if the UN is going to preach and tell people about human rights, we have to lead by example.”

Mr Annan also criticised Uganda, saying “some people have died” because of the anti-gay legislation.

Earlier in the week, outgoing Labour MEP Michael Cashman called on the UK Government to block Mr Kutesa’s appointment.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Kutesa said he had “no problem” with gay people as long as they “respect the privacy.”

His UN position has largely a ceremonial role and lasts one year.

Mr Kutesa’s term as president starts in September.