The latest viral COVID-19 conspiracy theory boosted by QAnon falsely claims vaccines turn children gay or trans

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False allegations that COVID-19 vaccines turn children gay or trans are spreading rapidly on Telegram, the messaging-based social-media app.

Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian, an Iranian cleric who is known for spreading false medical claims, appeared to be the first to popularize the bogus claim in a post on Tuesday for his more than 210,000 Telegram followers, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Following Tabrizian’s Telegram post, popular figures within the world of QAnon, the baseless far-right conspiracy theory alleging Donald Trump is fighting to destroy a cabal of pedophiles, began to discuss the baseless claim. Influential QAnon channels, including one with more than 182,000 subscribers, began circulating the idea, using convoluted and inaccurate logic to question whether vaccinations could impact the gender and sexuality of children. These posts have tens of thousands of views.

MelQ, a QAnon influencer with 57,000 Telegram subscribers, shared a news article that referenced Tabrizian’s comments. The post, in which the influencer shared a conspiracy theory claiming that vaccines in general cause “Gender confusion,” has 71,000 views as of Friday morning. A Telegram representative did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

There is no link between vaccinations and queerness, medical experts told Insider. Still, these claims continue to spread on Telegram among QAnon conspiracy theorists who cited comments from Tabrizian, whose field of medical advice is considered a threat by Iranian health officials.

“There is certainly evidence that shows unvaccinated children are more likely to catch things like measles, but there is no relationship between vaccines or not being vaccinated and being queer or transgender,” Dr. David Verhoeven, an expert in virology and professor of Vet Microbiology & Preventive Medicine at Iowa State University, told Insider.

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