A councillor who shared homophobic and Islamophobic memes on his Facebook page that stated that LGBT+ people are 'worthy of death' won't face any action.
Richard Smith is a town councillor for Ferryhill, County Durham, which has a population of approximately 9,000 people.
The local politician and preacher stepped down as mayor of the town after activists, led by drag queen Tess Tickle, demanded he resign over the homophobic material.
Tess made the memes public by sharing them to her Facebook account.
The posts shared included a video from a fundamentalist Christian activist Elizabeth Johnson, also known as Activist Mommy, who called gay people an "abomination".
A Pink News investigation uncovered other posts, which have since been deleted from the local politician's Facebook account, including a video interspersing gay Pride events with anti-gay Bible verses, including one that read that men who "burn in their lust for one another" are "worthy of death".
In June, indy100 reported that e also shared anti-Muslim posts, including one suggesting that Sharia Law is held above UK law and containing the alt-right myth of Muslim "no-go areas". In another Islamophobic post, he shared a video entitled: "Group of Muslims attack a Jewish family and their little children", on which he commented "This is supposed to be a religion of peace. I think not..."
When they were discovered, hundreds of people protested on Facebook, with some calling for the independent councillor to resign.
However, this week Durham County Council confirmed that it would take no action against Smith. The council ruled that Smith had a right to "freedom of expression".
The council also pointed out that Smith had shared the memes before his time as a councillor, and and that he had made the posts in a personal not professional capacity, reports Christian Concern.
In a statement he celebrated the result:
I’m grateful that the council has recognised my right to freely express my Christian faith while remaining a town councillor.
My faith in Christ is what drives me to help people regardless of their faith, disability, colour, culture, sexuality, or political persuasion.
I have never let the convictions of my faith dictate who receives my help or the help from the church.
I’ve always been motivated by the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus, a love that is full of mercy and grace.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:
We are delighted to have supported Richard - a caring and compassionate man, full of conviction and ideal for public service. He never should have been hounded out of his position as mayor, but we're pleased that he can continue to serve the public as a town councillor.