Saturday, September 18, 2021

Church leader who called virus ‘God’s punishment’ for gay marriages tests positive

Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month.

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91-year-old Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, made headlines in March when he told Ukrainian television that the coronavirus crisis was “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity”.

“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage,” he clarified.

On Sept 4, the church announced in a Facebook post that Filaret had tested positive for Covid-19.

“His Holiness Patriarch Filaret is especially grateful to everyone who shows his love and support in prayers for his health,” the church said on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian LGBTQ+ group Insight sued the patriarch following his comments, saying his words could potentially fuel hate and discrimination.

The church responded to the lawsuit, saying, “As the head of the church and as a man, the patriarch has the freedom to express his views, which are based on morality.”

Amnesty International Ukraine also condemned Filaret’s comments.

“Such statements are very harmful because they could lead to increased attacks, aggression, discrimination and acceptance of violence against certain groups,” Maria Guryeva, a spokesman for the organisation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Relationships between people of the same sex are legal in Ukraine, although the country does not currently recognise same-sex marriage.

As of Wednesday, there have been more than 143,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ukraine. Nearly 3,000 people have died.

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