A Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after he earlier blamed the pandemic on same-sex marriage.
Patriarch Filaret, the 91-year-old head of the Kyiv Patriarchate is currently in hospital after he contracted the disease.
“We inform that during planned testing, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine tested positive for COVID-19,” the church said in a statement on Facebook.
“Now His Holiness Bishop is undergoing treatment at a hospital,” the statement said.
Filaret is one of Ukraine’s most influential religious leaders. In an interview given earlier this year Filaret said COVID-19 was God’s punishment for “the sins of men and sinfulness of humanity”.
He specifically rounded on same-sex marriage as the culprit. Filaret’s comments were quickly condemned by advocacy groups such as Amnesty International who said his words were, “very harmful.”
“Such statements… are very harmful because they could lead to increased attacks, aggression, discrimination and acceptance of violence against certain groups,” spokesperson Maria Guryeva from Amnesty International Ukraine said at the time.
While the Ukrainian government has increased support for LGBTQ rights in recent years, same-sex unions are not legally recognised in Ukraine and activists say homophobia remains widespread.