A congressional committee in Brazil has approved legislation which would allow the “treatment” of homosexuality as a disorder.

The congressional human rights commission which is led by pastor Marco Feliciano of the Social Christian Party, approved the measure.

Felciano has in the past caused controversy, and was accused of homophobia when he called AIDS a “gay cancer”, in a tweet, reports the Associated press

His appointment as the head of the Commission for Human Rights and Minorities in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress was adamantly opposed by human rights groups.

The measure which was approved on Tuesday would lift a 1999 ban on the “treatment” of homosexuality, which was established by the Federal Psychology Council.

Lawmaker Joao Campos, a member of the evangelical block of the lower house in Brazil defended the legsilation.

He said: “In practice, [the] result would be that a person over 18 years of age, responsible for his actions, who is homosexual and wants to reorient his sexuality, can be attended by a psychologist.”

Feliciano had attempted to get the bill before the commission, but had failed as opponents had blocked a vote on the issue.

The initiative passed on Tuesday.

Before the vote, the psychologists’ council had urged members to vote against it, reports the AP.

Council member Huberto Verona said: “Today psychology, as wells as other scientific disciplines, recognize that sexual orientation is not a pathology that should be treated, it is not a perversion nor a disorder nor a behavioral disturbance. Since this is the case, we cannot offer a cure, and that is an ethical principle.”

The initiative must be debated by other committees, before it would go to the full chamber and Senate for a vote.

Brazil’s first openly gay lawmaker Jean Wyllys, said he thought the bill would not make it through the legislative process.