PM DAVID CAMERON’S refusal to condemn the Red Cross for dismissing a pensioner has been challenged by former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe.
Miss Widdecombe has called on Mr Cameron to condemn the Red Cross after it told 71-year-old Bryan Barkley, who had been pictured holding a sign saying ‘no same sex marriage’, that his views were not compatible with the charity’s ‘fundamental principles and values’.
Writing for the Daily Express, Ann Widdecombe said: “This supposedly neutral organisation has sacked a man who has worked for 20 years as a volunteer just because he opposes gay marriage.
“He did not mention the Red Cross nor did its name appear in any reports of the protest.”
The Red Cross told Mr Barkley in August of the decision to withdraw his ‘opportunity to volunteer with the British Red Cross permanently and with immediate effect’. The charity is supposedly
neutral on religious matters but also promotes impartiality as a fundamental principle, saying ‘it makes no discrimination as to … religious beliefs’.
Miss Widdecombe, who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, added: “Parliament was given assurance after assurance that freedom of conscience would be respected if the law on marriage was changed.
“Let us be clear: the issue here is not whether one supports gay marriage or not but whether one should be free to state a position.
“What has happened to the freedom of expression we all once took for granted and when did it become acceptable for employers and charities to censor the views of individuals when pronounced outside the workplace or organisation?”
The Red Cross later said it ‘did not dismiss this volunteer specifically because of the views he has on same-sex marriage’, according to the Coalition for Marriage (C4M),which called the comment ‘absurd’.
C4M added: “It was because Mr Barkley’s views on marriage were not ‘in line’ with theirs that they axed him.”