An appointee selected by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the state’s parole board has been rejected over homophobic comments he had made in 1993, despite apologising for his words.

Douglas Drummond had voiced his support for Fidel Castro’s isolation of the AIDS population in Cuba.

He also said of gay rights issues: “How do we deal with it short of killing them?”

At a private conservative group meeting, he said: “Do you know why I don’t worry about gay activity? I’m going to give you a clue. So far in San Francisco, over 10,000 have died. In Long Beach, over 1,000 have died. I’m serious.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the 72-year-old former police officer was appointed by Schwarzenegger last summer. The parole board role pays $111,845 a year.

He told the Senate Rules Committee he had been wrong in his views about gays, adding he had donated money to gay charities and joined Pride marches.

“I was wrong,” Drummond said. “It was awful. I apologise, I really do.”

Raising the issue of whether Drummond would be able to make unbiased decisions on whether inmates could receive parole, the committee opted 3-2 to reject his appointment.

State Senator Jenny Oropeza said: “You made a judgment as an elected official to defame a group of people.

“How would we feel if in some of these quotes, we took out ‘homosexual’ and inserted ‘Mexican American’ or ‘African American’ or ‘Jew’? These are serious matters, sir, and they are ones you can’t brush under the rug.”

Speaking on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday, Schwarzenegger said he believed it would only be a matter of time before Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California, is overturned.

However, he added the state would support the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the initiative.