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Shiite cleric Sadr says same-sex marriage caused coronavirus pandemic

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is the latest global religious leader to ignore scientific consensus and accuse the LGBT+ community of causing the coronavirus pandemic.

“One of most significant things to cause the spread of this epidemic is the legalization of same-sex marriage,” said the top cleric in a tweet on Saturday, adding “hence, I call on governments to repeal this law immedietely, without delay.”

Sadr’s comments come at a time when coronavirus has rapidly swept across the world, devastating countries with and without same-sex marriage alike.

Stephen Hickey, British ambassador to Iraq, responded to Sadr’s comment in a tweet saying the United Kingdom “will not change its law on equal marriage, which they are proud of.”

“Instead, let’s work together on a better foundation of medical and scientific advice to win the battle against coronavirus,” added the ambassador.

Amir Ashour, founder and executive director at IraQueer, says tweets like Sadr’s are dangerous for Iraq’s LGBT+ community: “We believe such tweets are not only misleading the public scientifically, but are also an attempt to weaponize the current situation and capitalize on the fear of people from the unknown to increase attacks against LGBT+ people.”

“Muqtada al-Sadr is leading a militia which has a documented history of torturing and killing LGBT+ people in organized campaigns using horrific means,” added Ashour in an email statement to Rudaw English.

“As usual, Iraqi politicians continue fooling their nation and escaping responsibility. It is embarrassing and surprising for a figure like Muqtada al-Sadr to be unaware of what is going on and rather blame a marginalized group of society for being the source of COVID-19,” LGBT+ advocacy group, Rasan Organization, told Rudaw English in an email.

In recent weeks several global religious figures have suggested that the creation and spread of the virus is divine retribution for the existence and actions of the LGBT+ community.

US President Donald Trump’s cabinet bible study leader, Minister Ralph Drollinger, called the coronavirus pandemic an act of God’s judgement in a blog post last week, saying that an “indicative of forsaking wrath is a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”

Orthodox Israeli rabbi, Meir Mazuz, has claimed the spread of the pandemic in Israel and around the world is divine retribution for gay pride parades and other types of “sinful behavior”.

“Harmful ideas like this only perpetuate stigma,” said Kate Dodson, vice-president for global health strategy at the UN Foundation, in comments emailed to the Thomson Reuters Foundation about these types of accusations against the LGBTQ community.

“During this time of heightened fear around the new virus, it is even more important to separate fact from fiction and reject all forms of stigma,” she added. Source