NT is accused of ‘intolerance’ by the Christian Institute
The National Trust, a charity established to take care of British heritage sites, has been accused by the Christian Institute of ‘intolerance’ for ‘punishing’ a group of volunteers who baulked at wearing LGBT badges or lanyards.
According to the Trust’s website:
Many of our places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality. Fifty years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, we’re exploring our LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) heritage with a programme called Prejudice and Pride. We’ll be holding events, special exhibitions and much more.
However, not all of the Trust’s volunteers are on board with the initiative.
The CT reports that around ten helpers at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk have declined to wear a LGBT lanyard or badge – and so therefore cannot be on duty in “a visitor-facing role”.
It pointed out that last month the National Trust was criticised for “outing” the late owner of Felbrigg as gay. Norfolk squire Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, above, who died in 1969, left his Jacobean ancestral home, Felbrigg Hall to the nation after his brother died, and he knew he would have no heirs.
Although close friends were aware that Mr Wyndham Ketton-Cremer was gay, he did not choose to publicly disclose his sexual orientation, living largely in a time where it was still outlawed.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the NT commissioned a film, narrated by Stephen Fry, which divulges his private life.
Ella Akinlade, the General Manager of Felbrigg Hall, called for staff and volunteers to wear the emblems:
As this is an internationally recognised symbol of inclusivity. 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.
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.
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.
Update: The NT has reversed its restriction on volunteers.
We are aware that some volunteers had conflicting personal opinions about wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges. That was never our intention. We are therefore making it clear to volunteers that the wearing of the badge is optional and a personal decision.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn