A Muslim election candidate says she is being ‘boycotted’ by sections of her own community because she is a campaigner for LGBTQ rights.

Natasha Shah is standing as an independent in the Mill Hill and Moorgate ward in the upcoming Blackburn with Darwen council elections on May 2.

Natasha said she took the decision to compete at the elections to highlight the ongoing bombing of Gaza and the killing of innocent children and the stance taken by the Labour and Conservative parties.

Natasha hails from Blackpool and moved to the town in 2022, now living in the Bank Top area. She has taken up a number of active roles to help people from all backgrounds and cultures and helped set up three volunteer groups dedicated towards disability groups, domestic violence and the LGBTQ community.

Natasha founded ‘Purple Souls’ in November last year, which aims to support those from her own community.

However, whilst her ward does not have a sizable population of Muslims, she still feels that sections of her own community have ‘boycotted her’ and she has not received any support locally.

She said: “I do feel there have been groups and people who are encouraging the community to boycott me due to thinking I am promoting LGBTQ which is not the case.

“I work with Muslim children who are LGBTQ for a reason to stop them leaving Islam because the family and community have kicked them out. I work to stop them self-harming and suicide which also is a sin in most Muslims' eyes yet look deeper into the issue of being bullied making them do this.

“I am here to support those vulnerable children and young adults who feel they have to leave Islam as they see themselves as LGBTQ.”

Natasha said she had wanted to support those in the Muslim community who may feel ‘rejected’ due to their sexual orientation.

“As a Muslim I feel it is my duty to support anyone who may be thinking of leaving their religion because they feel they feel rejected.

“Pushing that individual out of the family without support leads to leaving Islam and then no way back to their religion or culture.”

She felt people were spreading ‘lies’ about her as they did not want to be associated with an LGBTQ campaigner.

She said: “People are trying to boycott me as an independent but the bigger picture is people are standing as Independents to stop Labour and Conservatives from winning over people’s concerns about Palestine.

“So, then it worries me that my charity work is being used against me stopping me from supporting our brothers and sisters of Islam in Palestine.

“I do think the area is nice and once I have been out and about I have been speaking to a lot of people. It has been a mostly positive campaign.”

The following candidates are also standing in the Mill Hill and Moorgate ward - Julie Gunn (Labour Party) and John Paul Murphy (Conservative Party).