Court sides with student who branded gay people an ‘abomination’

The Court of Appeal sided with Felix Ngole, who was backed by anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern

A man who claimed that God “hates” homosexuality and accused gay people of committing a “wicked” act has won an appeal against the decision to expel him from university.

Felix Ngole, 40, was expelled from a social work course at the University of Sheffield in 2016 after complaints were made about his online comments about gay people, which the university deemed “inappropriate for someone entering the social work profession.”

Court battle brought by anti-LGBT lobbying group

In a ruling on July 3, the Court of Appeals sided with Ngole and his lawyers from anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern, overturning a High Court decision on the issue.

In public discussions on Facebook, Ngole had written that homosexuality is a “wicked act and God hates the act,” adding that God will “judge all those who indulged in all forms of wicked acts such as homosexuality.”

Felix Ngole was backed by anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern

Felix Ngole was backed by anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern

He also quoted Bible verses describing gay sex as an “abomination” and warned gay people they will face a “punishment of eternal fire.”

However, the appeals court ruled: “The University wrongly confused the expression of religious views with the notion of discrimination.

“The mere expression of views on theological grounds (e.g. that ‘homosexuality is a sin’) does not necessarily connote that the person expressing such views will discriminate on such grounds. ”

Justices: Decision to expel student for comments about gay people ‘disproportionate’

The three appeals court justices, Lord Justice Irwin, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave and Sir Jack Beatson, affirmed that Ngole “was not likely to” discriminate against gay people, “because, as he explained, the Bible prohibited him from discriminating
against anybody.”

The justices also concluded that the university’s decision to expel Ngole was “disproportionate,” adding: “Instead of exploring and imposing a lesser penalty, such as a warning, the University imposed the extreme penalty of dismissing the Appellant from his course, which was inappropriate in all the circumstances.”

The decision was celebrated by Christian Concern, which frequently works to defend people who face punishment for homophobic views.

The group claims the ruling means “Christians and others now know that it is their legal right to express Biblical views on social media or elsewhere without fear for their professional careers.”

Ngole said: “This is great news, not only for me and my family, but for everyone who cares about freedom of speech, especially for those working in or studying for caring professions.

“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.”