'I'm not homophobic': St. Paul Councilor won't apologize for past tweets

A St. Paul City Councilor isn’t backing down after social media posts resurfaced last week where he expressed anti-gay sentiment.

“I’m not homophobic,” he said. “There’s nothing in me that is homophobic.”

Ward 6 Councilor Kassim Busuri released a new statement Monday asking for “understanding and compassion” of traditional Muslim beliefs, calling on a respectful dialogue among members of his party.

Busuri is facing backlash from Facebook comments he made in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

In one, he appears to praise Uganda for signing an anti-homosexuality bill into law. In another, he says he’ll buy Pasta Barilla after the CEO is criticized for homophobic comments.

LGBT groups immediately called for an apology, as did openly gay City Councilor Mitra Jalali Nelson, who took to social media to say, “Busuri’s comments are a breach of the expectations we have for those entrusted with public service in our community. He should be accountable for his statements.”

In an interview Monday, Busuri said he would not apologize for his religious beliefs.

“It’s time for the party itself to say, yes, we have a number of Somali community members that are growing in the DFL party and they are coming in with a conservative religious view and if the party is welcoming, they should welcome the views we have as well,” he said.

The posts resurfaced last week after Busuri declined to show up for a City Council vote that recognized June as pride month in St. Paul.

He said he did not attend out of respect and that his religious views do not get in the way of his commitment to serve constituents of all sexual orientations.

“I’m in office to protect everyone’s rights,” Busuri said. “I will not and do not discriminate against. Bring people together.”