Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that he agreed with Turkey's top Muslim cleric's claim that homosexuality “brings disease and causes this generation to decay.”

According to NBC News, Eli Erbas made the comments on Friday as he gave his first sermon during the holy month of Ramadan. He also told followers that homosexuality and adultery are responsible for HIV and called for an end to “this kind of evil.”

Human rights groups criticized Erbas, but Erdogan backed him up and chided the groups for attacking Islam.

The president said that Erbas had fulfilled the duties of “faith, the wisdom [of Islam], and of his office.”

The Turkish government said that it will charge human rights groups who criticized Erbas with “insulting religious values.”

In 2001, Erdogan founded the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), the nation's largest political party. It has been accused of being Islamist, an accusation the party has denied.