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City official resigns after shocking remarks saying LGBTQ+ people spread “diseases”

Wassim Fayed speaking at a June 1 Sammamish Planning Commission meeting.
Wassim Fayed speaking at a June 1 Sammamish Planning Commission meeting. Photo: Screenshot

A city planning commissioner in Washington state has resigned after outcry over shocking anti-LGBTQ+ comments he made at the beginning of Pride Month.

At a June 1 meeting of the Sammamish, Washington, Planning Commission, Wassim Fayed responded to recent Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging training he and fellow commissioners attended last month.

“People were created certain ways. But then to club certain people who choose a certain lifestyle and say they are among the minority, I don’t believe that is the right thing,” Fayed said. Citing his Muslim faith, he voiced his opposition to Pride Month, calling LGBTQ+ people “some of the most wealthy, the most connected people.”

“I don’t believe that LGBTQ should be part of the minority,” Fayed said. “These are not a minority people who are disenfranchised.”

“These are people that are promoting diseases and infestation into the mind of our kids in schools,” he continued, parroting right-wing misinformation about the LGBTQ+ community. “I don’t believe this is a right way of life. God created us a male and a female, and to go and go against the creation of God and to spread diseases in the community is something that we should speak up against.”

Video from the meeting was posted to the City of Sammamish YouTube channel on Monday, and according to KIRO 7, the clip made its way to Reddit as well. On Monday, the city released a statement condemning Fayed’s comments. Sammamish Mayor Kali Clark, the city’s first openly LGBTQ+ elected official, accepted Fayed’s resignation the same day.

“The opinions expressed by the commissioner do not reflect the values or views of the City of Sammamish,” the city’s statement read in part. “While we acknowledge the commissioner’s right to free speech, we were shocked to hear the comments made and we strongly condemn them.”

But questions and concerns about fellow commissioners’ responses during the meeting and the effectiveness of the diversity and inclusion training they had recently received remain.

Noah Wagoner with Seattle Pride and Eastside Pride PNW told local NBC affiliate KING 5 that he was concerned that no one at the meeting cut Fayed off once they understood the tenor of his remarks. In fact, fellow commissioner Mike Bresko thanked Fayed “for speaking up and building and the training that we’ve had.”

“The things he was saying are disgusting, traumatic, and it’s hate speech,” Wagoner said. “We are humans. That is the fastest way to dehumanize people is to use language like that.”

In an email to Seattle alt weekly The Stranger, Council Member Pam Stuart said Fayed violated the city’s codes of ethics and conduct. She said she has asked the city to train all board and commission members on when and how to stop hate speech. Bresko told the paper that he would welcome such training.

According to the Seattle Times, Fayed is a member of the Sammamish Muslim Association. On Tuesday, the group released a statement disavowing Fayed’s comments.

“We… are heartbroken by and can empathize with the pain caused by the comments, as we share a common experience of marginalization,” the statement read. “Hopefully this incident can serve as an opportunity for community learning, fostering respect, tolerance and dignity.”

Wagoner also noted that Fayed’s suggestion that LGBTQ+ people are, across the board, wealthy and connected is incorrect. “We are overrepresented in unemployment, underemployment, housing insecurity, healthcare concerns,” he told KING 5.

“The reason we have Pride is because we are a marginalized community,” Wagoner said. “It is important for us to get together and share in queer love and queer joy.”

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