Two years after marriage was redefined in the U.K., Felix Ngole found himself in a discussion on Facebook. The topic was same-sex marriage, and during the discourse, the-father-of-four put forward the Christian position on the matter. At the time, Ngole was a postgraduate student, enrolled in a social work course at Sheffield University.
Two months after posting his comment, Ngole received a letter from the university informing him that he was under investigation. He was eventually summoned to a disciplinary hearing where he was told that he had breached social work guidelines regarding “personal conduct” and “brought the profession into disrepute.”
A ‘Fitness to Practice’ committee concluded that while Ngole was entitled to his opinion, he was in danger of causing offence by voicing it. As a result, Ngole was expelled from the university and barred from gaining professional qualifications.
In the letter expelling Ngole, a departmental official said, “The committee were clear to point out that their decision is not based on your views but on your act of publicly posting those views such that it will have an effect on your ability to carry out a role as a social worker… this action was extremely poor judgement on your part and had transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.”
When the issue was taken to a High Court, the judge decided to uphold the university’s right to expel him from the two-year program. However, after appealing the High Court’s ruling, a three-justice panel unanimously sided with Ngole last Wednesday.
According to Christian Post:
The Court of Appeal ordered that there be a new hearing for Ngole held before a “differently constituted” fitness-to-practice panel at the university, stressing that the earlier proceedings were “flawed and unfair to the Appellant.”
The justices ruled that the university “wrongly confused the expression of religious views with the notion of discrimination.”
The appeals court also objected to the university’s stance that “any expression of disapproval of same-sex relations” that could be traced back to the person making it is a “breach of the professional guidelines.”
The panel went on to warn the university that their stance was not in accordance with the relevant Health and Care Professions Council code of conduct and guidelines, saying:
“The HPCP professional code and guidelines did not prohibit the use of social media to share personal views and opinions, but simply said that the University might have to take action ‘if the comments posted were offensive, for example, if they were racist or sexually explicit.”
Four years on, a win for freedom and common sense.