An Iranian cleric has described gay men and the politicians who pass laws protecting them as being ‘worse than pigs and dogs’.

The Guardian translates comments from Khabaronline made by the Islamic scholar Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, who it says has authority to deliver decisions based on Shariah law.

The paper said he was interpreting verses from the Koran regarding Lot when he said: “If a society commits a new sin, it will face a new punishment. Problems like Aids did not exist before.”

Of gay acts, he said: “Even animals … dogs and pigs don’t engage in this disgusting act, but yet they [western politicians] pass laws in favour of them in their parliaments.”

According to the Guardian, Iran’s parliament has approved amendments of the punishments for male sodomy whereby the man sodomised will be put to death, but the man who performs the act, providing it is consensual and he is not married, is liable only to flogging.

In 2007, 21-year-old Iranian Makwan Mouloudzadeh was executed for homosexual offences that were allegedly committed when he was 13.

During the trial, all of Mouloudzadeh’s accusers had recanted their accusations against him and Mouloudzadeh himself testified that any confessions that he had made to the police about the alleged crimes were coerced and false, but a judge did not accept their testimony, prompting an international outcry.