The postgraduate father of four, who was studying to become a......
social worker, has been told his actions affect his fitness to practise and was ordered to hand back his student ID and library card.
Mr Ngole was reported after using his private Facebook account to express support for Kim Davis, a county clerk from Kentucky, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences after the introduction of same-sex unions there last September.
Mr Ngole argued that homosexual activity is against the teaching of the Bible, quoting a verse from Leviticus describing it as an ‘abomination’.
Yesterday, he said he was appealing the university’s decision because the case had wider consequences for the ‘freedom of religion and freedom of expression’.
Claiming he had been censored, he added: ‘The university claims my views are discriminatory, but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs.
‘I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Sharia law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don’t think so.’
Following a disciplinary hearing, the student was told he had brought his profession ‘into disrepute’ and breached ‘personal conduct’ guidelines. A separate ‘fitness to practise’ panel later concluded that he was entitled to his opinion about gay marriage but may have ‘caused offence to some individuals’.
They said his comment would affect his ability to operate in the social work profession even though he was not yet qualified.
Mr Ngole came to the UK from Cameroon as an asylum seeker in 2003 and has since gained two university degrees and worked as a teacher. If his appeal is unsuccessful, he plans to take legal action on human rights grounds against Sheffield University, which is one of 24 in the elite Russell Group of universities. He added: ‘My beliefs about marriage and sexual ethics reflect mainstream, biblical understanding, shared by millions around the world.
‘Simply expressing that understanding, in a personal capacity, on my Facebook page, cannot be allowed to become a bar to serving and helping others in a professional capacity as a social worker.’
Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said: ‘He is not someone in a public position, but rather a student, who is entitled to express his views. There is no evidence that Felix’s views impacted his work, or that he was not a hard-working student who should qualify in due course. Sadly, this is yet another case of Christians being ‘neutered’ in the public arena, and of censorship of views.’ A spokesman for the University of Sheffield said she could not comment on individual cases.
The case has parallels with that of Adrian Smith, a housing trust manager from Greater Manchester, who was demoted in 2011 when he opposed gay marriage on Facebook.
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