AN American actor featured in the Star Trek television series and films has thanked a County Durham drag performer for highlighting a town mayor’s social media posts about gay people and Muslims.

Actor and activist, George Takei used his Facebook account to publicly thank Tess Tickle for her campaign condemning a stream of posts by former Ferryhill Mayor, Cllr Richard Smith, which labelled homosexuality as a sin and described “one man and one woman” as “God’s order”.

Mr Takei, who played Commander Sulu in the series and films, is openly gay and lives with his husband.

He wrote on Sunday: “Thank you, Tess Tickle, for standing up for our community.”

Miss Tickle, 32, called for Cllr Smith’s resignation after becoming aware of his now-deleted posts last month.

Responding to the Hollywood star, she wrote: “I can’t quite believe that George Takei ‘Hikaru Sulu’ from Star Trek has sent words of support and shared my little village.”

Calls were made for Cllr Smith, a pastor with the Immanuel Christian Fellowship, to resign after the posts he shared about homosexuality being a sin and what he believes were Islamist fundamentalists kicking over British soldiers’ graves became public.

Miss Tickle, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and opposition Labour town councillors were among those who felt Cllr Smith’s position as the town’s civic representative had become untenable and felt his views were unacceptable.

Last week Cllr Smith, who drew a distinction between his personal and public life, resigned from his position as mayor.

He said it was with “profound sadness” that he decided to relinquish the role but could no longer bear to see his family, colleagues or church threatened due to a backlash.

The 59-year-old added: “I believe everybody has a right to choose who they are but my perspective, being a Christian and a minister, is what the Bible says. I have no hatred to anyone who chooses that lifestyle, but don’t want to be forced to accept it.”