A bill to allow homophobic discrimination has moved a step closer to becoming law in Kansas.

It would allow religious individuals, groups and businesses the right to refuse to serve gay people.

The state’s Republican controlled House of Representatives passed the measure 72-49 on Wednesday.

It now awaits a further vote in the state Senate.

“Kansans across the state are rightly appalled that legislators are spending their efforts to pass yet another piece of legislation that seeks to enshrine discrimination against gay and lesbian people into law,” Sandra Meade, chair of Equality Kansas said.

She added: “HB 2453 is a blatant attempt to maintain second-class citizen status for taxpaying gay and lesbian Kansans.”

The Republican Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, supports the bill.

“Americans have constitutional rights, among them the right to exercise their religious beliefs and the right for every human life to be treated with respect and dignity,” he told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The bill is likely to pass the Republican controlled Senate. Equal marriage remains banned in Kansas.