11:10 GMT27 February 2021
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    The ayatollah’s remarks have already been branded as a combination of "scientific ignorance with a crude appeal to homophobia" by one LGBTQ+ and human rights campaigner.

    Iranian Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian has announced that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can allegedly affect one’s sexual orientation, according to The Jerusalem Post.

    The cleric has reportedly shared this tidbit on Telegram, where he boasts some 210,000 followers.

    "Don’t go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals," the cleric declared, as quoted by the newspaper.

    Commenting on this development, LGBTQ+ and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell reportedly said that the ayatollah "combines scientific ignorance with a crude appeal to homophobia."

    "He’s demonising both the vaccination programme and LGBT+ people without a shred of evidence," Tatchell told the newspaper. "By seeking to scare the public into not getting vaccinated against COVID-19, he's fuelling the pandemic and putting lives at risk."

    Last month, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Israel named Daniel Asor made a similar claim, warning his followers that the anti-coronavirus jab can "make them gay" and described the vaccination rollout as an attempt by the "global malicious government" to "establish a new world order."

    In response to the rabbi’s statements, LGBTQ+ rights group Havruta quipped that they were getting ready for a potential influx of new members.

    homosexuality, vaccine, COVID-19, Iran
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