A prominent leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after blaming the pandemic on… *checks notes* marriage equality?
According to NBC News, Patriarch Filaret, the 91-year-old leader of the Church’s Kyiv Patriarchate, contracted the virus and was hospitalized last Friday, September 4. Church officials confirmed the news on social media, although the organization described his condition as “stable” in a follow-up statement on Tuesday.
Filaret’s diagnosis comes just months after he reportedly described the coronavirus crisis as “God’s punishment for the sins of men and sinfulness of humanity” on a Ukrainian television station.
“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage,” he clarified at the request of absolutely no one. “This is the cause of the coronavirus.”
Filaret’s comments sparked a lawsuit from Impact, a Ukrainian LGBTQ advocacy group, against him. But sure, go off.
Sadly, it’s not the first time religious leaders or lone extremists have spread harmful myths about the coronavirus. As NewNowNext reported in April, one homophobic zealot on Facebook falsely claimed that the virus originated at “the last gay conference in Italy.”
Also in April, Yaakov Litzman, an Israeli health minister with a vehemently anti-LGBTQ track record, tested positive for the virus.
To date, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of almost 900,000 people worldwide, according to The New York Times. That number includes more than 3,000 Ukrainians. A staggering 27.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally.