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Landmark lawsuit launched against Ukrainian preacher who claims coronavirus is ‘God’s punishment for same-sex marriage’

Patrick Kelleher April 14, 2020
Patriarch Filaret gay same-sex marriage coronavirus

Patriarch Filaret (ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty)

An LGBT+ rights organisation in Ukraine is taking legal action against a religious figure who blamed the coronavirus outbreak on same-sex marriage.

The organisation, called Insight, took action against Patriarch Filaret, who leads one of Ukraine’s biggest Orthodox congregations, Reuters reports.

Filaret, whose church has more than 15 million followers, said on Ukrainian national television network Channel 4 last month that the coronavirus pandemic was “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity”.

He continued: “First of all, I mean same-sex marriage.”

Insight’s head Olena Shevchenko said it is important that the LGBT+ community stands up against these comments.

LGBT+ activists have condemned Ukraine preacher Patriarch Filaret’s coronavirus comments as ‘dangerous’.

“Our aim is to show people that there is no longer place for such statements from church leaders in Ukraine,” Shevchenko said.

Filaret’s comments have been described as “dangerous” by LGBT+ activists.

“Such statements… are very harmful because they could lead to increased attacks, aggression, discrimination and acceptance of violence against certain groups,” Maria Guryeva of Amnesty International Ukraine said.

The Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate insisted last month that Filaret had the right to make his comments.

Our aim is to show people that there is no longer place for such statements from church leaders in Ukraine.

“As the head of the church and as a man, the Patriarch has the freedom to express his views, which are based on morality,” a statement at the time said.

In its lawsuit, Insight is asking for an apology from Filaret for spreading false information.

“We just want them to be more responsible the next time,” Shevchenko said.

Religious figures across the world have lashed out at the LGBT+ community, accusing them of bearing responsibility for COVID-19.

Filaret is just one of many religious leaders across the world who have tried to blame the coronavirus pandemic on the LGBT+ community.

Last month, pastor Steven Andrew blamed the outbreak on queer people, saying it is “urgent” that they repent.

“The Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies,” he said.

“Obeying God protects the USA from diseases, such as the coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s Bible studies leader blamed the pandemic on gay people last month.

“Yes, America is experiencing the consequential wrath of God,” he wrote. With frequent references to the Bible he spells out the five key “identifiers” of this, and coming in at number three is “a sensation toward homosexuality”.

“Clearly indicative of God’s forsaking wrath is when the abandoned serve the creature rather than the creator,” he declared. “Indicative of forsaking wrath is a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”

More: Coronavirus, Homophobia, Patriarch Filaret, The Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, ukraine

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