An investigation has started into allegations that a local council tried to play down the mayor’s sexuality.

The partner of the first openly gay mayor of Richmond upon Thames has resigned as consort in protest at the council’s behaviour.

Mario Cardu was appointed consort to mayor Marc Cranfield-Adams in May.

The consort, usually the mayor’s partner, escorts the mayor on official occasions.

Mr Cardu resigned from the honorary position after Richmond council allegedly refused to refer to Mr Cranfield-Adams as ‘the first openly gay mayor for Richmond Upon Thames’ in a press release.

According to Mr Cranfield-Adams, he was told not to make an “issue” out of his sexual orientation.

“Mario believes the council behaved in a discriminatory manner and demonstrated a homophobic attitude towards me as mayor when the head of communications refused initially to acknowledge me as the first openly gay mayor of Richmond,” Councillor Cranfield-Adams wrote in a letter addressed to council chief executive Gillian Norton, shown to the Richmond Guardian.

“To overcome this I had to issue my own press release.

“Only after this was sent and I pointed out that there may be a prima facie case of discrimination did the council then agree to amend its final press release.”

A council spokesman, speaking to the Richmond Guardian, said: “This allegation is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the chief executive and therefore it is inappropriate to comment at this stage.”