Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has achieved newfound fame after a viral video she was in was retweeted by President Donald Trump, is a religious minister with a history of anti-LGBTQ comments.
Among them, she has accused gay people of practicing “homosexual terrorism,” called homosexuality “perverted, vile behavior,” and said that same-sex marriage would lead to people “seeking to marry children.”
A Cameroonian-born U.S. resident, Immanuel was one of several doctors featured in a viral video, shared by Trump, expressing skepticism about the donning of masks and shutdowns of businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, the group of physicians, who have dubbed themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors,” held a rally to reiterate their opposition to the advice being given by a majority of medical professionals advocating that masks be worn and that humans practice social distancing.
During the rally, which was organized by the right-wing group Tea Party Patriots and livestreamed by far-right media organization Breitbart, Immanuel claimed that she has successfully treated hundreds of patients with hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressive and anti-parasitic drug that President Trump claimed to have taken to ward off the novel coronavirus, reports The Washington Post.
“America, you don’t need to be afraid. COVID has a cure. You don’t need to be afraid. COVID has prevention,” Immanuel said. “If they put everybody on hydroxychloroquine now, for those with early disease, early disease, and those that want to get prevention, I’m telling you it will stop COVID in its tracks in 30 days.”
Trump retweeted multiple versions of the rally video, which was viewed more than 14 million times, and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., shared the video, calling it a “must watch,” according to The Daily Beast.
The video was later removed from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for allegedly violating those social media companies’ policy regarding the dissemination of misinformation about COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, there is currently no cure for COVID-19. The use of hydroxychloroquine remains controversial, with researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan claiming that the drug makes hospitalized patients suffering from severe forms of COVID-related illnesses less likely to die.
However, other studies have found the drug is ineffective in treating mild-to-moderate forms of COVID-related illnesses. A recent clinical trial in Brazil claims that study subjects with a mild-to-moderate form of COVID-19 who were prescribed hydroxychloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin, fared no better than subjects who did not receive the drug at all, and, in fact, showed higher rates of cardiac and liver side effects.
Following the removal of the “America’s Frontline Doctors” video, Immanuel gained notoriety on social media after people began researching past claims she’s made, such as that gynecological problems like cysts, endometriosis, infertility, and sexually-transmitted infections are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches. This led to the trending of the phrase “demon sperm” on Twitter.
According to The Daily Beast, Immanuel, a pediatrician and religious minister based in Houston, has a history of making other sensational claims, including that alien DNA is used in current medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. She has also claimed the U.S. government is run in part by “reptilians” and other aliens.
Immanuel has also railed against the LGBTQ community, warning members of her church that the legalization of same-sex marriage meant that “very soon people are going to be seeking to marry children.”
Media Matters reports that her 2012 book, Jesus Help, The Church Has Been Caged, Immanuel wrote, “We are now teaching tolerance to something as vile as homosexuality — even to our grade-school children. This demon has been released to infect our generation.”
She later called homosexuality a “perverted, vile behavior that is being taught to our children.”
Immanuel has also accused LGBTQ Americans of practicing “homosexual terrorism” and praised a father’s decision to reject his transgender son in one of her sermons.
“You know the crazy part?” Immanuel reportedly said. “The little girl demands he must love her anyway. Really? You will not get it from me, I’d be like ‘Little girl, when you come back to be a little girl again, but you talk — for now, I’m gone.’”
President Trump initially defended his decision to retweet the video in a Tuesday news conference.
“I think they’re very respected doctors,” Trump said of the rally video. There was a woman who was spectacular.”
He also reiterated his belief that hydroxychloroquine “works in the early stages” of COVID-19.
After CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins questioned the president about Immanuel’s views, Trump responded: “I thought she was very impressive, in the sense that, from where she came — I don’t know what country she comes from — but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”
He then abruptly left and ended the news conference.