Ukrainian LGBT+ group, Insight, is suing one of Ukraine’s largest religious organizations over comments saying that the coronavirus spread because of the same-sex marriage, according to Reuters. This is reportedly the first such case in Ukraine.
The group, based in Kiev, announced on Monday that it took legal action against Patriarch Filaret, the head of one of Ukraine’s largest Orthodox congregations, because Filaret said during a TV appearance that the pandemic is “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity.” He clarified that that was about same-sex marriage.
Filaret is the leader of the Kiev Patriarchate, a group that consists of 15 million members out to the total Ukrainian population of 42 million. Or in mathematical terms, approximately 36% of the entire country’s population so anyone can see why statements like what Filaret has made have the potential to do a great deal of damage to LGBT Ukrainians. I can see incidents of violence against LGBT people because of this, to name one problem with such homophobic statements.
Which is what Insight thought as well, saying that the comments are “dangerous” and could stir up violence in an already stressful and uncertain time. Maria Guryeva, a spokeswoman Amnesty International Ukraine, had the same thoughts, as she said that Filaret’s comments “are very harmful because they could lead to increased attacks, aggression, discrimination and acceptance of violence against certain groups.” Of course, she is referring to LGBT people.
Of course not everyone thinks that way. The Patriarchate’s press service defended Filaret’s comments by saying that he “has the freedom to express his views, which are based on morality” as the head of a church. Now I suppose Filaret does have the freedom to express his views, but they can hardly be seen as based on morality which is highly subjective. And just because he’s allowed to express his views doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with him.
This is definitely not the first time LGBT people have been blamed for disasters. Off the top of my head, I can think of us being blamed for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and even the fall of the Roman Empire, so when Filaret made such comments I was disappointed that this specific brand of homophobia is still around, but I was definitely not surprised.