A UKRAINIAN Orthodox priest who blamed gay people for the coronavirus pandemic has fallen ill with the deadly bug.
Patriarch Filaret, 91, leader of one of Ukraine’s largest Orthodox churches has been hospitalised with the virus.
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According to 112.international, he has developed pneumonia but is in a stable condition.
In March, the Patriarch was widely criticised for saying coronavirus was “punishment” for same-sex marriage.
Speaking to Ukrainian TV Channel 4 he said: “[Coronavirus is] God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity.
“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage.”
The religious leader, who boasts a flock of 15 million in the country – population 41.9 million – became prominent after leading the Ukrainian church out from under its Russian Orthodox parent.
Filaret was defrocked and excommunicated by Russian religious bosses.
LGBT+ group Insight sued the congregation-leader following his comments, saying: “Our aim is to show people that there is no longer place for such statements from church leaders in Ukraine.”
At the time, a spokesperson for Amnesty International Ukraine said the Patriarch’s statements could lead to increased attacks and discrimination against members of the LGBT community.
In response, the Patriarchate’s press service said in a statement: “As the head of the church and as a man, the Patriarch has the freedom to express his views, which are based on morality.
“The Patriarchate reserved the right to bring counterclaims against those who sought to abuse judicial protections to encroach on Ukraine’s traditional family values.”
The LGBT+ group sought an apology through the courts from both Filaret himself and the TV channel for spreading false information.
As of September 6, Ukraine has 32,064 cases of coronavirus and 2,934 deaths.
According to the FCO, travellers in Ukraine must “maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 m, wear protective masks and gloves”.
The travel advice continues: “Failure to comply with restrictions may result in a fine or, in more serious cases, a prison sentence.
“Before taking public transport, you should consider whether you will be able to maintain social distancing.”
The country is currently divided into four different zones with local lockdowns imposed depending on the “colour” of the area in relation to coronavirus cases and deaths.
In Kyiv, where Filaret holds congregation, a “yellow” zone is currently in place, meaning most public spaces are open but social distancing measures are imposed.