Norfolk

National Trust U-turn over LGBTQ badges at Felbrigg Hall

The lanyard Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The National Trust's rainbow-coloured badges and lanyards were designed to support an LGBTQ campaign

The National Trust has reversed a decision to make some volunteers work away from the public after they refused to wear sexual equality symbols.

Staff and volunteers at Felbrigg Hall, a stately home in Norfolk, were asked to wear badges and lanyards in support of an LGBTQ campaign.

But 30 of the 350 volunteers were offered duties away from the public after choosing not to wear them.

In a statement, the trust said it would now be an "optional" decision.

A spokesman also confirmed all volunteers could resume their public-facing roles and it was "business as usual".

The row was sparked following the National Trust's Prejudice and Pride campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of homosexuality being decriminalised.

Image copyright National Trust Images/Andrew Butler
Image caption Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer left his ancestral home to the nation when he died in 1969

As part of the campaign the conservation charity is holding an exhibition at the estate, including a film, which reveals Felbrigg's last lord, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, was gay, which was known by close friends.

However, in an article in the Telegraph last week, the lord's godchildren criticised the move, saying it was unfair of the organisation to "out" someone who chose to keep his sexuality secret.

Several volunteers on the estate were reported to have agreed with them.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption A new film said Felbrigg's last lord, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, was gay

The National Trust had initially said it was committed to promoting equality and inclusion and in a letter to Saturday's Telegraph its director general Dame Helen Ghosh said anyone who did not agree with the campaign was "free to step back from the volunteer role or take a different role for the duration".

However, the organisation later released a statement saying it was now "making it clear to volunteers that the wearing of the badge is optional and a personal decision".

The statement added: "We are aware some volunteers had conflicting, personal opinions about wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges.

"That was never our intention."

Dame Helen said the National Trust was marking the anniversary of the law change at "a dozen or so of our properties of the people who lived there and whose personal lives were outside the social norms of their time".

She said the film and exhibition about Lord Ketton-Cremer were "sensitive, respectful and celebratory".

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