A South Carolina town has rallied round a lesbian police chief who was fired by the town’s mayor.

Latta’s Crystal Moore was fired as police chief by Mayor Earl Bullard last week, to the shock of local residents.

The decision caused outrage, after it came to light that Bullard had made several anti-gay comments in a phone call to a councillor.

He said in the call: “I would much rather have – and I will say this to anybody’s face – somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.

“I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it, and I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither.”

The 1400-strong town has since rallied round Moore, with residents holding daily pickets outside the mayor’s office until she is reinstated.

A ‘Stand With Chief Moore’ fund has also been set up to support her, and has so far raised nearly $4000 (£2380) towards her living expenses.

The council has already voted to weaken the mayor’s powers, and delay his ability to appoint another police chief for 60 days.

Janette W. Dupree, the town’s municipal judge, said: “Crystal’s sexuality has never even been talked about — nobody cares. We see her as just Crystal. She’s loved and respected, and she’s very, very good at her job.”

“It’s brought this town together.”

State representative James Smith has introduced a bill that would prevent the firing of employees on the basis of sexual orientation, telling the LA Times: “the good people of Latta have shown they don’t agree with the views of the mayor.”