Mayor Rob Ford is not homophobic, even though he won't be attending Toronto's week-long World Pride Festival this summer, according to his brother Doug, who is a city councillor.
It it is the mayor's prerogative not to attend the celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer communities, said Ford.
"He's not homophobic. He has friends that are gay," said Ford of his brother.
The councillor said he himself would not attend the Pride Parade because he objects to the nudity of participants.
"Do I condone men running down the street buck naked? No I do not," said Ford. He repeated six times he does not want to see men "buck naked."
The World Pride Festival will take place during Pride Week, June 20 to 29. The World Pride designation means the yearly Pride Festival will take on a global focus, and is expected to draw more than the usual 1.2 million estimated attendees.
Rob Ford has historically said he cannot attend the annual Pride Parade because he goes to his family cottage the weekend the parade is held. At a debate at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus on Wednesday night, he gave a different reason for not attending.
"I’m not going to go to the Pride Parade. I’ve never gone to a Pride Parade. I’m not going to change the way I am," he said in response to a question from an audience member.
Ford's most prominent mayoral rival, David Soknacki, said he would attend the festival.
Toronto — which submitted its bid for the World Pride Festival in 2009 — will become the first North American city to host the event.
Kevin Beaulieu, executive director of Toronto Pride, said the mayor's comments "came as a bit of a surprise," since invitations have yet to be sent.
"Pride cares a great deal about civic leaders coming to their events," he said.
Regardless of Ford's statement about attending the festival, there is a question as to whether Ford will be invited at all.
"We don't typically exclude people," Beaulieu said, "but we'd have to take into account his comments on videos."
Beaulieu said Ford's comments on the recent video taken at Etobicoke's Steak Queen were "clearly homophobic."
Coun. Shelley Carroll who represents Don Valley East, an adversary of the mayor on most issues, described Ford's refusal to attend gay pride events as "thinly-veiled homophobia."