New York City councilman ‘blames gay agenda’ for scuppering Amazon deal

Former New York state senator Rubén Díaz in a Facebook photo

New York City councilman Rubén Díaz has doubled down on claims that the city has been taken over by gay people, after Amazon cancelled a plan to build a second headquarters in the city.

Díaz, a long-serving New York City politician and a Pentecostal minister, has faced calls to resign over his attacks on city council speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay.

In a February 9 interview, the politician claimed: “Everybody is controlled by the homosexual community.”

Brushing off calls to resign, Díaz re-escalated the row this week as he hit out at the cancellation of plans for Amazon to build a new headquarters in the city.

New York City councilman Rubén Díaz claims the Amazon spat ‘proves’ he is right

Díaz tweeted: “Amazon’s HQ2 leaving is another case of the abuse of power from some City Council Members.

“This is all because of @JimmyVanBramer. He organised folks to push back on Amazon and even got [Corey Johnson] to fight back as well.

“This is another indication proving what I have been saying is correct.”

Ruben Diaz branded ‘paranoid, delusional and full of hatred’

Van Bramer, a gay Democrat, responded via Twitter: “You are paranoid, delusional and full of hatred for the LGBTQ community.

“Using the Amazon decision to pull out as proof of a vast gay conspiracy just proves what I have been saying. Resign already.”

Other commenters also hit out at Díaz.

Rubén Díaz, a former New York state senator and current city councilman

New York city councilman Rubén Díaz has refused to apologise for his comments (Ruben Diaz)

One response read: “This tweet is another indication that you’re an unabashed homphobe who deserves no place in New York City politics in 2019.”

Another added: “You are not fit to hold public office. What an embarrassment.”

Amazon said in a statement that it decided not to proceed with the project because “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

It said: “After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens.”

Díaz has refused to apologise for any of his comments, despite being stripped of a committee chairmanship over the remarks.

He has also been condemned by his own son, Bronx borough president Rubén Díaz Jr.

Díaz Jr 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.”

New York councilman Rubén Díaz has a history of anti-LGBT rhetoric

The conservative Democrat has long been an 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.

The politician took a $4,500 donation from the group during his 2016 re-election campaign for state senator.