National Trust volunteers at a country house who decline to promote the LGBT agenda are being told they cannot meet the public.
The Trust is currently holding a “Prejudice and Pride” season to celebrate homosexuality and transsexualism.
But around ten helpers at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk have reportedly declined to wear an LGBT lanyard or badge – and so therefore cannot be on duty in “a visitor-facing role”.
Last month the National Trust was criticised for ‘outing’ the late owner of Felbrigg as gay.
Now, further controversy has been caused by an email from the Trust, seen by The Telegraph.
the very opposite of tolerance and diversity
Ella Akinlade, the General Manager of the Hall, called for staff and volunteers to wear rainbow lanyards or badges – “as this is an internationally recognised symbol of inclusivity”.
She adds: “We respect people’s decisions to opt out of wearing the lanyard. If this is the case please come and talk with us and during this period we will ask you not to be on duty in a visitor-facing role.
“By wearing the lanyard we are sending a clear message of welcome to all of our visitors”, she wrote.
Mike Holmes, who has helped at Felbrigg Hall for 13 years, said he is a great advocate for the Hall but now faces a backlash for his views.
“There’s a group of about 10 of us that have volunteered for more than 10 years, and we’ve now been told that if we don’t toe the line, we can’t do our jobs.
“People are getting ill over this, they’re losing sleep because they’re missing out on a big part of their daily lives and doing something they love so much.”
The Daily Telegraph spoke out against the move in an editorial.
“The National Trust maintains that it is celebrating diversity as part of its ‘core ambition’, though its members might question whether that is its proper function.”
“But”, it added, “it is pernicious to insist that volunteers who give freely of their time to help preserve the nation’s heritage should participate in this campaign or be banished to backroom tasks, and thereby implicitly branded homophobic”.
‘Opposite of tolerance’
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director at The Christian Institute, said he thought the move was “the very opposite of tolerance and diversity”.
Describing the move as “wrong and counter-productive”, he said: “It’s saying ‘you’re not welcome’ to Christians, Muslims, Jews and anyone who embraces mainstream, traditional morality.”
In 2014 grandfather Bryan Barkley, who spent almost 20 years volunteering for the Red Cross, was dropped by the organisation for opposing same-sex marriage.