A Brazilian politician has caused outrage by comparing homosexuality to paedophilia.

Senator Magno Malta made the comment during a speech opposing a proposed new law which will classify homophobia as a criminal offence.

Mr Malta said that allowing homosexuals to be openly affectionate in public would be the same as legalising paedophilia.

“[Homosexuals] may be having sex under your window, and you won’t be able to tell them that there are children around and that that is not appropriate behaviour, because then it will be considered discrimination, and you may go to jail for it,” he said.

“You are giving homosexuals more freedom and rights than those given to blacks and native Brazilians in the past.

“My greatest concern now is that paedophilia is considered a mental disorder.

“However, by approving this bill which states that we can no longer discriminate against homosexuality, we would be doing the equivalent of legalising paedophilia.”

Mr Malta, who is well-known in Brazil as the lead singer of band Tempero do Mundo, was elected to the Brazilian senate in 2002.

He said he feared other consequences from a new law criminalising homophobia.

“Bestiality may then also be considered a sexual option,” he said.

“Necrophilia may then also be considered a sexual option. Passing the bill would mean approving that kind of behaviour and making it legal.”

Although homosexuality has been legal in Brazil since 1823, except in the armed forces, civil unions between same-sex couples are only recognised in one state in southern Brazil.

Homophobia is widespread and activists claim that 2,680 gay people were murdered in Brazil between 1980 and 2006, the majority because of their sexuality.

According to Tedy Marques, the president of the Alagoas Gay Group, “Homophobia is one of the worst problems Brazil faces.”