Tory MP Philip Davies has told the House of Commons that political parties should be prevented from insisting on all-women shortlists.
The MP for Shipley introduced his Equality and Diversity (Reform) Bill at second reading, which he said would "tackle institutionalised political correctness", on 21 October 2011.
It would ban councils from giving "benefit or encouragement" on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, nationality, disability or socio-economic status.
The bill would also prohibit the use of positive discrimination in recruitment and appointment processes.
But it did not pass at second reading, as MPs voted against it by 39 votes to 3.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Tom Brake said people who are obsessed about political correctness "tend to be white, male... and have too much time on their hands".
Home Office Minister Damien Green, speaking on behalf of the government, said there was distinction between "positive action" and "positive discrimination" and insisted that the government's approach to equality is built on two principles: equal treatment and equality of opportunity.
He claimed Mr Davies' bill could prevent ramps being installed to assist disabled people: "As I read your bill it would make it illegal for anybody to introduce a ramp for a wheelchair to go up because that would be positive action helping a particular group."