Former state senator Rubén Díaz has said that on the New York City council, “everybody is controlled by the homosexual community.”
Díaz also called city council speaker Corey Johnson a homosexual who was married to another man during the interview with Spanish-language radio show El Desahogo earlier this month, according to New York City news channel NY1.
The city councilman has refused to backtrack on his comments despite being urged to do so by many politicians including his son, Bronx borough president Rubén Díaz.
The borough president tweeted on Saturday (February 9): “The LGBTQ community is unequivocally an essential voice in our City. @revrubendiaz’s sentiments are antagonistic, quarrelsome and wholly unnecessary. He should apologise.”
“I didn’t say anything wrong. I am speaking the truth and the victim here is me. I’m the one”
— New York City councilman Rubén Díaz
Instead, the 75-year-old lawmaker, who has sat on the council for more than a year, responded to an enquiry from the New York Post on Saturday (February 9) by saying: “Apologise? No, for what?
“I didn’t say anything wrong. I am speaking the truth and the victim here is me. I’m the one.”
The Democratic politician, who spent 14 years as a state senator until he resigned in 2017, said that the outrage which his comments had sparked proved his point.
“I’m the one that is being harassed,” said Díaz. “Seeing all those elected officials joining against me, asking for my resignation and my apology, that shows how powerful and feared the gay community is in New York.”
Díaz, who is a Pentecostal minister, has also tweeted to deny that his comments were homophobic.
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He asked: “What’s homophobic about saying that the gay community controls the nyc city council? I’m giving them credit for the power and influence they have.”
Johnson, who is gay and single, has called for Díaz to apologise. A statement from his office read: “Council Member Díaz’s homophobic comments are offensive to both the Speaker and the body, and have no place in New York City.
“He should apologise to all of his colleagues, and the entire LGBTQ community.”
Díaz tweeted on Friday to admit his mistake regarding Johnson, writing: “I did misspoke [sic] Speaker Johnson is not married to another man. He still single.”
New York councilman Rubén Díaz has a history of anti-LGBT rhetoric
The conservative Democrat has long been a vociferous opponent of marriage equality, leading thousands of supporters in anti-gay marriage rallies in New York in 2009 and 2011 despite his own granddaughter being a lesbian.
He was also once forced to resign from a post after suggesting that if New York hosted the Gay Games, it would result in the spread of AIDS by encouraging homosexuality.
In 2003, Díaz filed legal action in a bid to block the Harvey Milk High School, which caters for ostracised LGBT youth, claiming that it discriminated against straight children.
He accepted an invitation to speak at the anti-gay National Organisation for Marriage’s 2015 “March for Marriage” event in Washington DC.