AN Iranian cleric has bizarrely claimed that the Covid vaccine can make people gay after receiving it, it has been reported.
Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian also told his 210,000 followers on the messaging platform Telegram to avoid anyone who has been vaccinated.
“Don't go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals,” the Jerusalem Post reports him as saying.
Homosexuality can be punishable by death in Iran and thousands of gays and lesbians have been executed since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The regime has been accused of forcing thousands of gay people to undergo gender reassignment surgeries in a sick bid to “cleanse” the country of homosexuality.
LGBT+ and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell condemned Tabrizian’s comments.
“He’s demonizing both the vaccination program and LGBT+ people without a shred of evidence,” he told the Post.
“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.”
Tabrizian is no stranger to making bizarre comments about western medicine.
Last year, a video showed him burning Harrison’s Manual of Medicine and saying that “Islamic medicine” had made such books “irrelevant,” according opposition Radio Farda.
Iran has struggle to coped with the Middle East’s worst Covid outbreak, with 1.5 million cases and a death toll nearing 59,000.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned imports of the American and Britain vaccines and the country has just begun using Russian Sputnik V vaccines.
Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled the Islamic Republic, said Tabrizian, like other regime clerics, relates shortcomings “to sexuality”.
“The clerics in Iran are suffering from lack of knowledge and humanity,” she said.
Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has defended his country's brutal anti-gay policies.
"Our society has moral principles. And we live according to these principles,” he said on a visit to Germany
“These are moral principles concerning the behaviour of people in general. And that means that the law is respected and the law is obeyed.”
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