Town’s new mayor shared anti-LGBT memes claiming gays are ‘worthy of death’
The new mayor of a small town in County Durham is facing calls to be stripped of his role – after a string of anti-LGBT social media posts surfaced.
Independent councillor Richard Smith earlier this year took on the ceremonial role of the Mayor of Ferryhill, which has a population of around 9,000 people..
But Smith, who is also a preacher at the Immanuel Christian Fellowship, has come under fire after local drag artist Tess Tickle highlighted his history of anti-LGBT social media posts.
Among the posts shared by Smith are a video from a fundamentalist Christian activist Elizabeth Johnston, known as the ‘Activist Mommy’, ranting about the “sin of homosexuality” and calling gay people an “abomination”.
Further investigation by PinkNews uncovered more posts by Smith, including one video that interspersed footage of gay Pride events with anti-gay Bible verses – overlaying footage from an explosion at an alleged ‘gay Pride party’ with a Bible verse that states men who”burn in their lust one toward another” are “worthy of death”.
Smith wrote: “This is the world today and it will get worse. Come on Church wake up…”
The Mayor also shared posts from a ‘Straight Pride’ page and anti-transgender memes.
Smith wrote above one: “ONE MAN & ONE WOMAN… GOD’S ORDER.”
Drag act Tess Tickle wrote: “The New Mayor of my HOME TOWN is sharing homophobic statuses, protest videos of gay pride etc!
“Homophobia, Bi-phobia, transphobia is not right!!! How can anyone be put in power with these views?
“We need to stamp out discrimination and everyone should be equal.
“Mr Mayor of Ferryhill I will fight for equality in my little village and I can safely say I’ve never been so ashamed.
“I have supported Ferryhill for years, raised money at charity events for our Town Council and Mayor’s Charities, helped raise tens of thousands for local people and now this.
“However [you are] one person and I know I have more support in Ferryhill than you will ever have! You have 12 months [in office] and I’m counting down the days…”
Speaking to the Northern Echo, Smith – who also shared anti-Muslim videos – claimed the posts were made in a “personal” capacity, although they were set to be publicly visible.
He said: “As a Christian and a minister of the church, anyone regardless of faith, culture, race, gender or sexuality is welcome to my support in my role as a pastor.
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“If they are in need my door is always open.
“The posts are on my personal Facebook page and are not connected in any way to my role as the mayor of Ferryhill or as a councillor.
“I’ve considered the content of these posts and understand why they could be read as offensive which is why I have deleted them.
“I won’t apologise for the conviction of my faith but I do regret any offence or harm caused as this was absolutely not my intention.”
Although he has deleted some of the messages, PinkNews found that several others dating back years remain online.