A doctored image of the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen attending Blackburn Pride has been condemned.

Hundreds took part in a series of celebrations and activities across the borough as part of the official Blackburn Pride event over the weekend, which has been hailed as a big success.

Those sharing an edited version of a photo of the Mayor, Councillor Suleman Khonat, holding a cardboard 'Insta' frame from the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have been labelled as "pernicious" and "ignorant".

On Saturday, a parade through the streets of Blackburn made its way through the town centre, and among the participants was Cllr Suleman Khonat.

Over the weekend, an image was shared across WhatsApp with the Mayor holding up the selfie frame, which had been edited to show the phrase "I Love Qawm-e-Lut”.

The phrase refers to the Quranic story where punishments were meted out to the people of Lut. The phrase had been written above the East Lancashire Health Trust selfie frame image and shared over the weekend.

Further social media posts criticised the Mayor for taking part in the festivities, calling it a "disgrace", but this reaction to the image has received condemnation.

Community activist Asif Mahmud spoke out over the image which he said had been created to cause resentment. He also pointed out how some Muslim families had attended the festivities on the day.

He said: “I applaud the Mayor for attending the Pride event.

"The doctored photos which are circulating are pernicious and people should avoid forwarding such pictures.

“The LGBTQ+ community thankfully have now equal rights and should be supported by the Mayor and all other members who have civic positions.

"Those who spread anti LGBTQ+ messages tend to be coming from a position of fear and ignorance.

“The LGBTQ+ community has faced discrimination and persecution for far too long and we must support them.

"People have a right to disagree, but they don’t have a right to stop them living their lives the way they wish to. A high five to Mayor Solly Khonat.”

Cllr Khonat was contacted and said he was "undeterred" but would not comment any further.

Cllr Jim Shorrock, who helped to organise the Blackburn Pride event, added: “There were no real issues on the day and everybody had a fantastic time. It was better than anyone could have expected.

“One of the most wonderful things was that we had a really diverse audience with people from all communities taking part and enjoying the festivities.

“It is the job of the Mayor to attend all events and we thoroughly condemn any derogatory comments made by a minority of people. It is totally unacceptable.”