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Uni student kicked out over anti-gay Bible verse wins case

LEGAL VICTORY: Felix Ngole was expelled from a University of Sheffield course after complaints about his remarks on homosexuality, but the Court of Appeal ruled that people had a right to express their views in private

THE COURT of Appeal has ruled that a university was not within its right to expel a student for publishing a Bible verse about homosexuality online.

In 2015, committed Christian Felix Ngole, was studying a social work course at the University of Sheffield.

During a robust Facebook discussion about Kim Davies, the Kentucky marriage registrar, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, Ngole quoted Bible verses affirming the traditional Christian opposition to same-sex marriage and of the “sinful nature” of homosexual activity.

Some months later, someone anonymously reported Ngole to the University of Sheffield. He was subsequently disciplined, informed that he had brought the profession into disrepute and dismissed from the course, losing his career.

The university refused to compromise, arguing that Ngole “lacked insight” into the effect of his posts.

It also stated the student could not express the Christian viewpoint on same-sex marriage or homosexual activity in any public forum, including a church or a work situation – even if directly asked.

Ngole felt he could not surrender his faith and was expelled from his course.

The High Court upheld the decision to remove him, but now the Court of Appeal held that it was the university that was lacking insight and not Ngole; further, the court praised Pastor Ade Omooba of the lobbying group Christian Concern for his good sense in seeking “caution” and compromise.

The Court of Appeal condemned the position of the university whereby people would live in fear if private expressions of views were overheard; and could be reported by anonymous complainants.

Ngole welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision. He said: “This is great news. As Christians we are called to serve others and to care for everyone, yet publicly and privately we must also be free to express our beliefs and what the Bible says without fear of losing our livelihoods.

“I have suffered tremendously as a result of how I was treated by the University of Sheffield and I feel that four years of my life have been taken away from me.

“Despite all this, I feel overwhelming joy that what I have lost will be so much gain to Christians today and in the future as a result of this important ruling for freedom.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Despite this victory, this is not the end of Felix’s fight for justice. He must now go back to a University of Sheffield panel who will judge, in light of this outcome, his fitness to practice as a social worker. Full justice must be served and the university held to account so that this kind and compassionate man can finally work in a job that reflects his education and his ability, professionally and as a person.

“Our communities and the most vulnerable in our society need more Christian professionals like Felix, not fewer.”

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