A religious cleric in Iran has copped ridicule for telling followers to “keep away” from those vaccinated against COVID-19 as they’ve “become homosexuals”.
Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian made the false claims on the social media platform Telegram, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“Don’t go near those who have had the COVID vaccine,” he wrote to nearly 210,000 followers.
“They have become homosexuals.”
Tabrizian lives in the religious capital of Qom and has previously promoted bigotry and false claims about Western medicine, instead favouring “Islamic medicine”.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Iranian dissident Sheina Vojoudi slammed Tabrizian’s “nonsense” and called out leader’s hypocrisy.
“Like other clerics in the regime, also Tabrizian relates all [shortcomings] to sexuality,” Vojoudi said.
“The clerics in Iran are suffering from lack of knowledge and humanity.
“Actually, his goal of spreading nonsense is to try to scare people [out] of getting vaccinated, while the leader of the regime and other officials got [the] Pfizer [vaccine].
“And they don’t provide it for the people with the excuse that they don’t trust the West.”
False claims about COVID-19 put lives at risk
UK LGBTIQ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also said Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian’s “ignorance and hatred” was putting lives at risk.
“He’s demonizing both the vaccination program and LGBT+ people without a shred of evidence,” Tatchell said.
“By seeking to scare the public into not getting vaccinated, he is fueling the pandemic and putting lives at risk.”
Same-sex sexual activity is punishable by execution in Iran.
The Middle East nation has reported over 1.46 million cases of the virus since February 2020.
Iran has also recorded at least 58,000 deaths, but even its leaders concede the number is likely far higher.
Iran cleric joins other religious leaders spreading false claims about COVID-19
Sadly, the Iranian cleric isn’t the only religious figure spreading dangerous lies about COVID-19.
Last month, an Israeli rabbi also faced worldwide ridicule for also falsely claiming coronavirus vaccines could turn people gay.
Rabbi Daniel Asor claimed in a sermon that “any vaccine made using an embryonic substrate… causes opposite tendencies.”
In response, a local LGBT group Havruta joked they were “gearing up to welcome our impending new members” after the vaccine rollout.
Last September, a Ukrainian church leader contracted COVID-19 after claiming the virus was God’s punishment for sinful homosexuality.
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