Brazil Congress panel gives nod to 'cure' gays

The human rights committee of Brazil's lower house of Congress approved a measure Tuesday allowing counselors to try to "cure" homosexuality, the official news agency Agencia Camara said.

The Human Rights and Minority Groups Committee led by controversial pastor Marco Feliciano suspended psychologists' board rules, which bar professionals from offering treatment to patients interested in changing their sexuality.

"There isn't any cure for when you aren't sick," lawmaker Simplicio Araujo said, as the measure passed on a panel controlled by Feliciano's supporters.

Human Rights Minister Maria do Rosario called the move "backwards" and "absurd."

"What Brazil really needs is legislation making homophobia a hate crime," she said.

"The World Health Organization stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental illness more than 20 years ago," the Federal Psychologists' Board said.

The bill was sent on to Family and Justice committees for review.