A drag queen has forced the resignation of their town’s mayor.
Richard Smith earlier this year took on the ceremonial role of the Mayor of Ferryhill, a small town in County Durham which has a population of around 9,000 people.
However the politician, who is also a preacher at the Immanuel Christian Fellowship, was forced to resign this week – 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”.
The Mayor also shared posts from a ‘Straight Pride’ page and anti-transgender memes.
In a statement this week Smith refused to apologise for his anti-LGBT messages and hit out at his critics – but confirmed he would be resigning as Mayor
He said: “It is with deep and profound sadness that after considerable deliberation I have decided to relinquish the role of Mayor of Ferryhill Town Council.
“Over recent weeks I have been subjected to unprecedented levels of adverse publicity, publicity that has been orchestrated for political advantage, and has threatened both my Church, family, and colleagues alike.
“Whilst the instigators are very much in the minority, as evidenced by the widespread messages of support I have received, I realise that my ability to serve the people of Ferryhill in the manner I would have wished will always be subject to disruption and intimidation.”
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He insisted: “To be denied the opportunity to hold personal views was never my expectation when I undertook the role of Town Mayor, and it is a matter of sincere regret to me that those personal views have been so tragically and outrageously twisted and reported on in order to discredit both myself and my faith.
“I am stepping aside with immediate effect, and trust all local organisations who have been so cruelly influenced by recent publicity are able to once again support all charitable and worthy events organised by the Council in Ferryhill.”
“It is my intention to remain as a member of the council, to participate in and promote initiatives brought forward for the benefit of all in our town, as was always my intention.”
Smith continued: “People who really know me and Lauraine and the Church can truly comment on how hard we have lovingly worked to help and provide for those in need, this has now been decimated by the minority mob along with those wishing to score political points and who have a God-phobia.”
In a post after the announcement, Tess Tickle wrote: “Please share love not hate, please love each other regardless off faith, race, gender, sexuality.
“We are all human, we all have feelings and we all have the right to love who we want to love. We have one life, please live it the way you chose.
“Don’t let anyone tell you who you can or can’t love. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my community.”