St. Paul council member facing accusations of homophobia

Old Facebook posts made by Kassim Busuri have surfaced.
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Interim Council Member Kassim Busuri.

Interim Council Member Kassim Busuri.

A St. Paul City Council member is facing accusations of making anti-LGBTQ remarks after past social media posts he made were shared on social media.

Kassim Busuri, who is the interim councilor for Ward 6, came under scrutiny when he was the only member of the council not to sponsor a resolution recognizing June as Pride month, as well as noting it was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

As a result, Tyler Blackmon, a finance director at the Minnesota DFL, found some old Facebook posts made by Busuri that reveal anti-LGBTQ comments he had made.

One of them included a 2014 comment "That's why I'm going back to Uganda" after he shared a story about the Ugandan president signing an anti-homosexuality bill into law.

He also wrote "I'll have to go and buy some Pasta Barilla now" after the pasta company's CEO said in an interview: "I would never do an advert with a homosexual family."

Busuri later issued a statement that you can see below, in which he says, among other things: "It is true, I did not take a picture with some of my colleagues and a rainbow flag nor did I vote or speak for or against an ordinance recognizing the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. What is also true is that I am Muslim and I believe in the dignity of all human beings and that no one should be persecuted for their faith, values, beliefs, or who they are."

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The Pioneer Press notes that Busuri had arrived at the council meeting after the Pride month was read into the record, with Busuri telling the newspaper he'd only learned of the resolution a few minutes before the vote.

"My religious beliefs are very clear about homosexuality, but it’s my duty to protect others," Busuri said. "Those who are attacking me, I see it as Islamophobic, attacking me for my religious beliefs."

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But his explanations have not sat well with his fellow councilor Mitra Jalali-Nelson, who introduced the Pride resolution and issued a statement in response to Busuri's past comments.

"Following yesterday's resolution, extremely homophobic and queer-antagonistic comments made in the past by Interim CM Busuri were brought to my attention by community members, followed by more concerning statements he made today refusing to recant his remarks," she said.

"To this moment, there appear to be no apologies made or public reflections by him on how these remarks could impact LGBTQIA residents in our city.

"This incident has been marked with assumptions about and erasure of the diversity within our vast LGBTQIA community, which encompasses all races, ethnicities, faiths, genders and other identity markers that coexist in our shared struggle for freedom for all."

Busuri was in hot water with the council last month, after he announced he would be running to become the permanent candidate for the Ward 6 seat, despite having pledged not to during the interim council member interview process.

He was removed from some council working groups as a result, the Star Tribune reports.

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