First out Tory MP appointed Special Envoy to country with death penalty for homosexuality

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Sir Alan Duncan, who in 2002 became the Conservative Party’s first out MP, has been appointed Special Envoy to Yemen – a country where homosexuality is punishable by death.

The 1994 penal code in Yemen, which reportedly denies having any LGBT citizens, states that while unmarried men face flogging or one year in prison for same-sex sexual acts, and women face up to seven years in prison, married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for homosexuality.

Sir Alan has also been appointed Special Envoy to Oman, where, in 2008, he proposed to his then-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. In Oman, homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) made the announcement this evening. A press release says that Sir Alan “has travelled extensively in the Middle East and has built strong relationships in both Oman and Yemen”.

It explains: “Sir Alan will work to help deliver the government’s Yemen Strategy, which includes security, stability and development objectives, and separately, to maintain and further strengthen the UK’s strong bilateral relationship with Oman.”

It did not state whether Sir Alan will have an official stance on, or specific mandate to discuss, LGBT rights in the region.

In the cabinet reshuffle last month, he stepped down from his position as Minister for International Development, which he had held since 2010, “at this own request”. He was recommended for a knighthood shortly afterwards.

Sir Alan has previously spoken about the need to campaign against anti-gay laws in other countries, but has said that cutting financial aid is not the way to effect change.