His appointment was controversial, and now gay groups seem to have been proven right after the head of Latvia’s human rights committee told a press conference that the gay community should not be given equal rights to heterosexuals.

Janis Smits told a press conference this week that gay people are not a legitimate minority and should “recover normal sexual orientation.”

The chairperson of Latvia’s Parliamentary Human Rights and Social Affairs Committee said: “The only thing I can do is call on these people to return from their sins, be healed by God and recover normal sexual orientation. I am consistent.

“I do not call for any activities against homosexual people. God loves all his creatures, also those who have sinned, and all the people need the grace and forgiveness of God,” the Baltic News reports.

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has urged the Latvian Parliament to reconsider its choice.

“Clearly, such an important position, one of the highest level posts in the Latvian legislature to handle issues of human rights and social affairs, should be held by an individual who protects and promotes the values enshrined by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” said Raul Romeva, Vice-President of the Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights.

In September, Latvian legislators endorsed a ban on sexual discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the workplace, reversing an earlier decision that earned them sharp criticism at home and abroad.

Mr Smits from the Latvia First Party, voted against the amendment, “This ban means that a small, marginal group will be protected, while other groups of normal people can still be discriminated against.”

As a European Union member state, Latvia is expected to protect its LGBT citizens from discrimination.

Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, said: “Mr. Janis Smits has been a vocal opponent to universal human rights, advocating a world in which gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender peoples have no rights to protection, no rights to exist.

“It is our common duty, as politicians, to ensure that we do not make grave errors of judgement by selecting individuals who are ill suited to take charge of such crucial dossiers.”