County Durham town Mayor spreads homophobia online

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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 before swearing into the Mayor’s position he was known as a preacher. And as many Christian preachers, he was (and probably still is) far from being an LGBT-accepting person. The local drag queen Tess Tickle accuses the Mayor of sharing a number of explicitly homophobic posts on his social media page. 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 ‘abomination’ of LGBT people. 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.” He supported a Christian homophobic baker Jack Philips and posted a number of anti-Muslim videos. Being called out for it the Mayor stated: “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. 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 apologize for the conviction of my faith but I do regret any offence or harm caused as this was absolutely not my intention.”

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