Pressure mounts on Red Cross over elderly volunteer axed after gay marriage protest

The Telegraph 13 November 2014
The Red Cross is coming under growing pressure to reinstate a long-standing volunteer who was dismissed after staging a one-man protest against gay marriage.

MPs have tabled a motion in the Commons voicing “deep concern” at the treatment of Bryan Barkley, 71, from West Yorkshire, and urging the charity to reconsider.

The Coalition For Marriage (C4M), which led the campaign against the introduction of same-sex marriage in the UK, said it had received almost 50,000 expressions of support including many messages from people speaking about boycotting the charity.

The charity said in a statement that it had not dismissed Mr Barkley “specifically because of his views on same-sex marriage” but added it was feared his stance would have a “negative impact on the way services are delivered to a particular community”.

A spokeswoman described it as “tragic” that the protests over Mr Barkley’s case had diverted staff from dealing with issues such as Ebola and the Syrian crisis.

A spokesman for the campaign group said Mr Barkley, a retired civil engineer, had not specifically called for a boycott of the Red Cross but remained “deeply upset” at being dismissed after years working in its international tracing service which helps reunite families in the UK with relatives abroad.

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