A former Green councillor who sided against equal marriage has been appointed a champion of faith groups in Brighton.

Christina Summers went against party lines in August 2012 when the Greens were discussing a motion backing the government’s commitment to legalising equal marriage.

The month before in a Brighton and Hove City Council debate she had said: “When you touch marriage, you’re touching family, and you’re hitting at the very heart of God, and I have an enormous problem with that”.

Ms Summers was expelled from the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council in September 2012 due to her wider conduct.

She unsuccessfully appealed the expulsion order and continues to sit on the council as an independent.

In a statement, Councillor Summers said: “As faith groups champion I want to ensure this council actively builds genuine, open and inclusive working relations with this significant grouping of our population, some of whom have felt sidelined by those who, for various reasons, seem to take a dim view of people of faith.

“They are as much a part of our voluntary sector as other groups and sow ceaselessly into a city they know intimately.

“Ironically the usual suspects who opposed did so in a manner that highlights the very reason why a faith groups champion is needed.

“Let me be really clear about this new role: it will not be a walk in the park, there’s an awful lot to do and, no, I won’t get paid a penny.”

She was appointed unopposed to the role. On Twitter, Green Councillor Ben Duncan labelled Ms Summers a “bigot”, adding: “We must all remember violence committed in the name of religion and the danger of mixing religion and politics.”

But writing in the letters section of the Argus newspaper, Fr Kevin O’Donnell, a governor at Brighton’s Cardinal Newman Catholic School, said: “To call Christina Summers a bigot for her stance against gay marriage is unfair and disrespectful. She signed up to the Green pledge in favour of equality; she is not homophobic and supports tolerance and rights for gay people.

“You can hold these views and believe, traditionally, that marriage is pair-bonding between opposite sexes intrinsically open to life. The Greens interpreted and redefined equality to include the concept of gay marriage at a later date. They moved the goal posts.”