A grandfather who spent almost 20 years volunteering for the Red Cross has been dropped by the organisation for opposing same-sex marriage.
Bryan Barkley held a sign which read “No Same Sex Marriage” and “No Redefinition of Marriage” on the first day same-sex marriages took place in England.
In August, Mr Barkley was told of the decision to withdraw his “opportunity to volunteer with the British Red Cross permanently and with immediate effect”.
The letter also referred to the incompatibility between Mr Barkley’s views on marriage and the Red Cross’ “fundamental principles and values”.
Coalition for Marriage (C4M), an umbrella group of supporters of traditional marriage, is backing Mr Barkley and described the actions of the Red Cross as “shocking”.
— CoalitionForMarriage (@c4mtweets) November 3, 2014
Mr Barkley, 71, has been married for over 40 years and previously worked as a civil engineer.
At the Red Cross he volunteered in the international family tracing service, working on 84 cases, irrespective of sexual orientation.
He said: “What have I done wrong? I passionately believe that the institution of marriage is between a man and a woman and is the cornerstone of our society. Why is it wrong to say so in public?
“Freedom of expression is being stifled in this country.
“I have nothing against homosexuals. But I don’t believe Parliament was representing the views of the people when it changed the definition of marriage.”
C4M Campaign Director Colin Hart commented: “This is a shocking case. For nearly two decades Bryan helped reunite people with lost family members.
“Yet after voicing his opposition to the Government’s plans to rip up the traditional definition of marriage he was fired.
“His only crime seems to be that he was one of millions of ordinary people who opposed this change.
“What will disturb most people is that the Red Cross says it is not his actions but his thoughts and views that were the problem.
“Is it now official policy of the Red Cross that any volunteer who holds traditional views on marriage will face the sack?”
Mr Barkley held the sign on 29 March 2014, and it was first raised as an issue by the Red Cross in May.
The following month, and on the same day that he was at a British Red Cross garden party at Buckingham Palace, Mr Barkley was requested to attend a disciplinary meeting about the issue.
On 8 August Mr Barkley was informed that he could no longer volunteer. He is appealing the decision.
The Red Cross said: “We have to consider the compatibility of people’s publicly expressed views in line with the fundamental principles.”