An ultra-Orthodox rabbi has sparked controversy after claiming the worldwide coronavirus outbreak is divine punishment for an increase in gay pride parades.
Israel's Rabbi Meir Mazuz hit out at LGBT communities in a blistering rant that labelled pride events "a parade against nature".
Giving a speech at a traditional Jewish educational facility outside Tel Aviv, he said: "When someone goes against nature, the one who created nature takes revenge on him."
He also claimed Arabic nations would be spared the worst impact of the disease as their citizens "don't have this evil inclination".
Rabbi Mazuz is a controversial figure who once led the country's right-wing Yachad party, which once suggested any Israeli man not devoting himself to full-time study of the Torah should automatically be enlisted in the country's armed forces or perform national civilian service.
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A number of LGBT rights groups around the world have condemned Rabbi Mazuz's comments.
A spokesman for the Israeli branch of the Anti-Defamation League said: "It is regrettable that in times like these when the whole world comes together to eradicate coronavirus, Rabbi Mazuz finds it appropriate to blame the virus's outbreak on the LGBTQ community."
And in response to the rabbi's tirade, Israel's modern Orthodox group Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah told the Times of Israel: "Using this time of need to incite against the LGBT community is unacceptable.
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"Trying to get people to return to religion cannot come at the price of harming others."
There are currently 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, with no deaths yet recorded in the country.
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