Social Work student takes case to high court over Christian views on homosexuality
In February 2016, the Social Work student Felix Ngole was subject to a ‘Fitness to Practise Committee’ hearing at Sheffield University where he was in the second year of his Masters degree. This hearing was brought about due to concerns that he posted comments on his private Facebook account expressing his belief that homosexual behaviour was against the teachings of the bible and that gay marriage was an abomination.
Commenting on being removed from his course at the time, the father of four is quoted in the Telegraph as having said:
“The way I was treated made me feel that their duty of care to me immediately ended from the day they received that complaint”
“I am not against people who are in same-sex relationships, that is their choice, but I am a Christian and if asked for my views I should be free to express that”
“I didn’t intimidate anyone and I didn’t treat them in a discriminatory manner”
Losing his original appeal against a decision that Felix believes bars him from being a Social Worker because of his religious views, he has now received permission to mount a judicial review in a preliminary hearing at the High Court.
Andrea Minichiello Williams (of the Christian Legal Centre that is supporting Felix’s legal battle) has said that today’s result can be seen by Christians all over the world as a victory for free speech:
“The idea that someone could be expelled from a social work course for expressing a view in a Facebook post and then declared not fit to practice is very detrimental to free speech”
“Students with orthodox Christian views are being told that they aren’t fit to practice”
“For religious people who believe now what most people used to believe, it can be a bar to office.”
Sarah Hannett, representing Sheffield university in this case, has explained the University’s view that Felix “posted comments on a publicly accessible Facebook page that were derogatory of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals”
“The views expressed are likely to undermine the trust and confidence that lesbian, gay and bisexual clients are entitled to have in his professional role as a social worker and in the social work profession more widely”
The outcome of Felix Ngole’s case could have a significant impact on the regulation of future Social Workers and affect the way in which professionals are allowed to express views that are, for many people, in-keeping with traditional religious teachings.
With permission now being granted, the full case will be heard later this year.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Felix’s views and whether he should be allowed to return to Social Work training.