After blaming gay people for COVID-19, a prominent leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has himself contracted the virus.

Speaking in March this year, on Ukrainian national TV, Patriarch Filaret stated that the pandemic was, “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity.”

Doubling down on his comments Kiev-based LGBTQI group Insight in April launched legal actions against Filaret condemning his actions as being damaging or the countries LGBTQI community.

“Our aim is to show people that there is no longer place for such statements from church leaders in Ukraine,” Insight’s head Olena Shevchenko told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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 The 91-year-old figure, who is the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate, confirmed the diagnosis in a Facebook post.

“We inform that during planned testing, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of Kiev and All Rus-Ukraine tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement said. “Now His Holiness Bishop is undergoing treatment at a hospital.”

He is reportedly in a stable condition being treated in hospital; however various new sources a have also reported that Filaret is also being treated for pneumonia.

Unfortunately, Ukraine as a country is still grappling with its own homophobia. In November of 2016, the Ukraine government voted against the adoption of the Council of Europe human rights treaty because its references to sexual orientation and gender stood in opposition to what many lawmakers considered basic Christian values.

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 Elsewhere in the world, Filaret is not alone, with a number of prominent religious figures also having been quick to proclaim COVID-19 as a “divine intervention” and a way to rid the world of homosexuality.

The World Health Organisation has of course urged against the spread of such misinformation, saying in a statement that these beliefs spark “stigmatisation and discrimination.”

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