The Red Cross is facing mounting criticism after sacking a long-standing volunteer who protested against gay marriage.
Coalition for Marriage (C4M), which led the campaign against redefining marriage in the United Kingdom, says that it has received nearly 50,000 messages in support of Bryan Barkley, 71, and say that many people are considering boycotting the charity.
A motion has also been tabled in the House of Commons expressing “deep concern” at Barkley’s treatment and urging the charity to reinstate him.
The Telegraph says that Mr Barkley had been photographed mounting a one-man protest outside Wakefield Cathedral, holding a placard reading “No same-sex marriage”, in May this year after the gay weddings took place in the UK.
The Red Cross then summoned him to a meeting where he was told his actions went against the group’s values.
A spokesman for C4M said that although Mr Barkley has not called for a boycott of the Red Cross, he does remain “deeply upset” at his treatment after working with it for many years.
However, the charity said in a statement that it did not dismiss Mr Barkley “specifically for his views on same sex marriage”, although it did fear his stance would have a “negative impact on the way its services are delivered to a particular community.”
Colin Hart of C4M is not impressed, though. He said: “This is a shocking case – Bryan was a senior volunteer, undertaking very complicated and technical work for the Red Cross.
“For nearly two decades he helped to reunite people with lost family members. Yet after voicing his opposition to the Government’s undemocratic plans to rip up the traditional definition of marriage he was fired.
“He broke no law and his only crime seems to have been that he was one of the millions of ordinary people who opposed this change. There has never been any suggestion that Mr Barkley acted inappropriately while at the charity, or even pushed his views while volunteering.
“Indeed just 24 hours before he was notified of a disciplinary meeting, he attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace with other volunteers, employees and supporters of this organisation.”
The Red Cross has responded, however, by accusing Mr Bickley’s supporters of distracting the organisation from its work dealing with international disasters. A spokeswoman said: “The British Red Cross is working internationally tackling enormous issues like the Ebola crisis, Syria and the food crisis in South Sudan.
“Orchestrated actions like this inevitably divert us from our humanitarian mission.
“Tragically it has taken up vital staff time and resources away from our international mission and in the UK.”