A student was expelled from a university in England for calling homosexuality a sin in a Facebook post.
In February 2016, Felix Ngole, a master’s candidate in Sheffield University’s social work program, claimed “the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin” and that “same-sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not.”
School administrators decreed his comments were ““derogatory of gay men and bisexuals” and promptly outsed him from the program, claiming his beliefs would make him unfit for social work.
Ngole, 39, filed a judicial appeal, insisting he had a right to his opinions. His comments were posted as part of a debate about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ngole contends he was making a “genuine contribution” to an important public debate.
But now, more than a year-and-a-half later, the UK’s high court denied his appeal and affirmed the university’s decision.
Deputy High Court Judge Rowena Collins Rice told The Guardian says it’s a matter of “inclusivity and support”: “Universities have a wide range of interests in and responsibilities for their students… Where, as Sheffield does, they aspire to be welcoming environments for students from a diverse range of backgrounds, they must expect to be inclusive and supportive of that diversity.”
“Social workers have considerable power over the lives of vulnerable service users,” she added, “and trust is a precious professional commodity.”
But, as unpleasant as Ngole’s statement was, he didn’t threaten anyone. He didn’t declare he wouldn’t work with LGBT clients or say he’d bring up his Christian beliefs in the workplace. (And even if he did, that’s a matter for his future employer, not the school, to consider.) Such an extreme response only feeds anti-LGBT conservatives who insist we’re on a slippery slope to silencing anyone who disagrees with us.
“The court has ruled that though Ngole is entitled to hold his Biblical views on sexual ethics, he is not entitled to express them,” said Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented him in court. “But freedom to believe without freedom of expression is no freedom at all.”