“Miss Markle said, and these were her exact words, that this is a basic human rights issue, not one about sexuality.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be putting LGBTQ issues at the front of their royal duties.

The couple – who are due to marry next month – spoke to fans at the Commonwealth Youth Forum yesterday (18 April), an event in which worldwide speakers gathered to discuss issues surrounding LGBTQ rights.

Markle reportedly spoke with passion at the event, making it clear that LGBTQ people were entitled to “basic human rights”.

In 37 countries in the Commonwealth, being LGBTQ is still punishable by jail time, with many of the country’s leaders using laws imposed by Britain to persecute minorities.

Jacob Thomas – winner of a Queen’s Young Leaders award for helping reduce the suicide rate within Australia’s LGBTQ community – said: “Miss Markle said, and these were her exact words, that this is a basic human rights issue, not one about sexuality.”

Related: Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has urged Theresa May to press DUP on LGBT rights. 

He continued: “Prince Harry said that what was so amazing was that five or ten years ago we wouldn’t have been having this conversation and how incredible it was that we now were. He said he would put the issue at the forefront of his work.”

Kenyan LGBTQ activist, Jonah Chinga, added: “Both Prince Harry and Miss Markle said they would put LGBT issues at the front of their work.”

Earlier this week, Theresa May expressed deep regret for Britain’s archaic discriminatory laws criminalising same-sex relationships throughout countries in the Commonwealth.

“Across the world, discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls,” she said.

May acknowledged that the anti-gay laws were “put in place” by her own country, and said “they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.”

“As the UK’s Prime Minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.

“As a family of nations we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions. But we must do so in a manner consistent with our common value of equality, a value that is clearly stated in the Commonwealth charter.”

She continued: “Recent years have brought welcome progress. The three nations that have most recently discriminated same-sex relationships are all Commonwealth members, and since the heads of government last met the Commonwealth has agreed to accredit its first organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Related: Boris Johnson promises Tom Daley he’ll raise LGBQ rights with Commonwealth.

“Yet there remains much to do. Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love. And the UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.”

In response to Theresa May’s speech, UK Black Pride stated: “As a co-signatory to the All Out petition demanding ‘Theresa May Say Sorry’ UK Black Pride are celebrating the news the UK Prime Minister has expressed regret for the exporting of homophobia by the UK through these colonial laws, still existing in 36 Commonwealth nations, criminalising love between those of the same-sex.

“UK Black Pride is committed to developing and strengthening our work with our siblings across the Commonwealth to ensure grass roots activists have the space to change these laws, so we can all live freely and openly.”

Related: The UK has a responsibility to defend the rights of LGBTQ people in the Commonwealth.