The Daily Star’s FREE newsletter is spectacular! Sign up today for the best stories straight to your inbox
A popular cleric in Iran has been condemned for claiming those who get vaccinated against coronavirus will turn gay.
Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian took to Telegram, a social media app where he has almost 210,000 followers, to publish a homophobic rant over the weekend.
"Don't go near those who have had the COVID vaccine," he said.
"They have become homosexuals."
The radical Islamist from Qom has made similarly derogatory remarks about Western medicine in the past, including burning Harrison's Manual of Medicine because it was "irrelevant".
Daily Star's newsletter brings you the biggest and best stories – sign up today
Tabrizian's comments about the vaccine have been met with strong criticism from other Iranians.
"Like other clerics in the regime, also Tabrizian relates all the shortages [shortcomings] to sexuality," dissident Sheina Vojoudi told The Jerusalem Post.
"The clerics in Iran are suffering from lack of knowledge and humanity.
"Actually, his goal of spreading nonsense is to try to scare people [out] of getting vaccinated, while the leader of the regime and other officials got Pfizer, and they don't provide it for the people with the excuse that they don't trust the West."
Meanwhile UK human rights activist Peter Tatchell said: "Ayatollah Tabrizian combines scientific ignorance with a crude appeal to homophobia."
"He's demonising both the vaccination program and LGBT+ people without a shred of evidence.
"By seeking to scare the public into not getting vaccinated against Covid-19, he is fuelling the pandemic and putting lives at risk.
"Typical of many Iranian religious and political leaders, his bizarre, irrational claims scapegoat LGBTs and put theological prejudice before scientific knowledge."
Porn star moans coronavirus 'isn't deadly enough' and says 'kill off the weak'
Thousands of gay people are thought to have been executed in Iran since the revolution of 1979, including as recently as 2019.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif has dismissed international outrage over its anti-gay policies, saying: "Our society has moral principles, and according to these principles we live…
"These are moral principles regarding the behaviour of people in general, and that is because the law is upheld and you abide by laws."
Iran's intolerance toward gay individuals does not extend to the entire LGBT community, as the Middle Eastern nation legally recognises the rights of transgender people.
Gender reassignment surgery is not only legal but subsidised by the state. After Thailand, Iran performs more reassignment surgeries than any other country in the world.
However rather than in support of trans people, it's believed these surgeries are used as a way of "solving" the perceived problem of gay people by urging them to switch genders so heterosexual relationships can be maintained.
Source: Read Full Article