A singer who has penned a song about a man that “used” to be gay is going to be one of the acts headlining at the Sanremo music festival in Italy in February.

The controversial male artist Povia has penned the song Luca Was Gay and is competing for the accolade of best song.

The Sanremo music festival was established in 1951 and has been cited as the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The festival has long been used as the method for choosing the Italian Eurovision entry.

36-year-old Povia, from Milan, has angered gay rights groups because his song implies homosexuals can be “converted” to heterosexuality.

The president of Italian gay rights group Arcigay, Aurelio Mancuso, does not find this a surprising turn of events as  Povia said in a recent magazine article:

“[I] had a gay phase, it lasted seven months and then I got over it.”

He also claims that Povia said he has two friends that he has “converted” to being straight.

Two years ago Povia won the San Remo festival with a song about marriage, and the Vatican has been accused of overtly interfering with the event.

Mancuso believes that Luca Was Gay refers to Luca Tolve, who says he was “cured” of his homosexuality at the hands of controversial Catholic American psychologist Joseph Nicolosi.

Nicolosi works for National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality whose mission statement says:

“NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care, and the right of professionals to offer that care.”

NARTH claim that they can free people from a homosexual lifestyle, a sentiment which seems to be shared by the muse of this song which is at the centre of this controversy.

A Facebook protest has already been building up steam following its launch on Tuesday.

It is trying to put pressure on the event organisers of the music festival to pull Povia from the line up.

Arcigay have stated that if this song is included in annual music festival they will conduct protests that will be “extremely strong, noisy and organised.”

Italian politician Luca Volonte of The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats has rebuffed calls from Arcigay to withdraw the song from the concert as, ”a clear attempt at discrimination and censorship.”

Derek Munn, Director of Public Affairs for gay equality group Stonewall, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“So called gay cure therapies and theories are wholly discredited. Science backs what lesbian and gay people know themselves. Your sexual orientation is how you are.”