Christian thrown out of university over anti-gay remarks loses appeal

Felix Ngole, who was on social work course at Sheffield University, wrote on Facebook that homosexuality was a sin.

A devout Christian who was thrown off a university social work course after branding homosexuality a sin on Facebook has lost a high court battle.

Felix Ngole, from Barnsley in south Yorkshire, was removed from a two-year MA course at Sheffield University in February last year after writing what the university called “derogatory” comments about gay and bisexual people.

Ngole, 39, wrote during a debate on Facebook that “the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin”, adding 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 view and complained that university bosses unfairly stopped him completing a postgraduate degree. But after analysing rival claims at a trial in London this month, the deputy high court judge, Rowena Collins Rice, ruled against him.

The judge was told Ngole had posted comments during a debate about Kim Davis, a state official in the US state of Kentucky, who 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”. He said he was making a “genuine contribution” to an important public debate and was entitled to express his religious views.

University bosses said he had posted comments on a publicly accessible Facebook page which were “derogatory of gay men and bisexuals”.

Collins Rice said: “Public religious speech has to be looked at in a regulated context from the perspective of a public readership. Social workers have considerable power over the lives of vulnerable service users and trust is a precious professional commodity.”

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: “The court has ruled that though 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.”

Written by: Jamie Grierson

First published on 27/10/17

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/27/christian-felix-ngole-thrown-out-sheffield-university-anti-gay-remarks-loses-appeal

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