Felix Ngole, from Barnsley in south Yorkshire, claimed that he was merely expressing a traditional Christian sentiment. Ngole was on a two-year Social Work Masters Degree course at Sheffield University in February 2016 after writing what the university deemed “derogatory” comments about gay and bisexual people on facebook.
Ngole, wrote during a debate on Facebook that;
“the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin”, and added that “same-sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God’s words and man’s sentiments would not change His words.”
He claimed that he was lawfully expressing a traditional Christian belief and claimed that university unlawfully prevented him from completing his postgraduate degree. But after reviewing rival claims at a trial in London this month, the deputy high court judge, Rowena Collins Rice, ruled against him.
Ngole said his rights to freedom of speech and thought, enshrined in the European convention on human rights, has been violated. His case was backed by the Christian Legal Centre, part of the campaign group for Christian Concern.
The university lawyers argued that Ngole showed “no insight” and said the decision to remove him from the social work course was fair and proportionate.”
They said the university had to consider his;
“fitness to practise as a professional social worker because Social workers have considerable power over the lives of vulnerable service users and trust is a precious professional commodity.”
The judge was told Ngole had written comments during a debate about Kim Davis, a state official in the US state of Kentucky, who point blank refused to register same-sex marriages. Ngole said he had argued that Davis’s position was based on the “Biblical view of same-sex marriage as a sin” and said that he was making a “worthwhile contribution” to an important public debate in which he was entitled to freely express his religious views. Ngole said “I stand with Kim Davis”, a reference to the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.
Ngole plans to appeal the decision, adding:
“I am very disappointed by this ruling, which supports the university’s decision to bar me from my chosen career because of my Biblical views on sexual ethics.
The universities solicitor Collins Rice said:
“Public religious speech has to be looked at in a regulated context from the perspective of a public readership.
The judge added: “Universities also have a wide range of interests in and responsibilities for their students – academic, social and pastoral. Where, as Sheffield does, they aspire to be welcoming environments for students from a diverse range of backgrounds, they must expect to be inclusive and supportive of that diversity.”
Officials at the Christian Legal Centre Said the Decision Was Wrong and Would Have A “Chilling” Effect.
Andrea Williams, the chief executive, said:
“That whiles Mr Ngole is entitled to hold his Biblical views on sexual ethics, he is not entitled to express them. This ruling will have a chilling effect on Christian students up and down the country who will now understand that their personal social media posts may be investigated for political correctness.”