THE First Minister is expected to raise the issue of gay rights with the President of Ghana during his visit to Holyrood today.

Nicola Sturgeon has been under increasing pressure to discuss it with John Dramani Mahama as they meet against a backdrop of growing vigilante violence against gay people in his home country, where the punishment for homosexual acts is one to three years in jail.

He is set to observe First Minister’s Questions and will tomorrow receive an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen as part of a wider tour of Scotland.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick, who will also meet him, has said she will not raise gay rights, with the parliament saying it is not her place to do so.

The Scottish Government had previously said it would discuss "issues of mutual interest" but yesterday said Ms Sturgeon would share her views on the "values of humanity, equality and tolerance"

Colin MacFarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, described the visit as a “key moment” and called for the equality issues to be raised.

He said: “We sincerely hope that the Scottish Government will use this visit as an opportunity to demonstrate its support for LGBT equality internationally.

“While we’ve seen some promising statements from President Mahama criticising violence against LGBT communities, we believe that the Scottish Government has an important responsibility to help advance the protection of LGBT rights across the world, and this visit is a key moment.

“At Stonewall, we also believe in always engaging activists on the ground for their guidance on how opportunities for dialogue, such as this, could be of benefit to them, so we are actively reaching out to Ghanaian activists on this point.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said last night that it had a “positive record of raising LGBT issues and encouraging equality around the world, for example through our support for Pride House during the Commonwealth Games”.

She added: “During the First Minister and President Mahama’s short meeting she will share her strong view that the Commonwealth values of humanity, equality and tolerance are universal values.”

While President Mahama has previously stated he does not believe gay people should be killed or beaten because of their sexuality, his government has said it will “not take any step to promote homosexualism in Ghana.”

Homosexual acts are officially termed as “unnatural carnal knowledge” under Ghanaian law, and violent attacks based on sexuality are routinely ignored by police according to activists.