MPs urge British Red Cross to reinstate volunteer who protested against same-sex marriage

Four Conservative MPs sign an early day motion in parliament about Bryan Barkley, who was dismissed after volunteering for the charity for 18 years

Bryan Barkley's protest
Bryan Barkley's protest

Four Conservative MPs have signed an early day motion in parliament calling for the British Red Cross to reinstate a volunteer who was dismissed after he staged a one-man protest against same-sex marriage.

But the charity has denied that is clamping down on freedom of speech.

The motion, of which Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, is the primary sponsor, says: "That this house is deeply concerned by the decision of the Red Cross to dismiss long-serving volunteer Bryan Barkley because of his personal support for traditional marriage; notes that his views were expressed reasonably, in his own time, and were in no way connected with his work for the Red Cross; and calls on the Red Cross to reinstate Mr Barkley immediately."

The EDM was tabled last week and has gained the signatures of Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, Gerald Howarth, MP for Aldershot and Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough.

According to the website of the campaign group Coalition for Marriage, Barkley, who had volunteered for the BRC for 18 years, was dismissed because on 29 March, the first day when gay marriages took place in the UK under new laws, he stood holding a sign outside Wakefield Cathedral with the words "No Same Sex Marriage".

He was dismissed from his BRC post after being told his views were not compatible with those of the charity.

The statement on the C4M website says: "The Red Cross mustn’t be allowed to sack volunteers or staff just because they believe in traditional marriage."

A spokeswoman for the BRC said: "We have repeatedly said – and underlined – that this volunteer was not let go because of his personal views. The British Red Cross respects the right of people to hold views in private. It is only where someone's views interfere with the impartial delivery of our services to people in need – conflicting with our fundamental principles – that we are forced to act. Where there are serioius concerns, we have no option but to take action."

Most EDMs are never debated, let alone approved, by parliament, and are generally used to gain publicity or start debate.

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