Teacher thrown off Sheffield University course for branding same-sex marriage 'a sin' wins latest round of legal fight

Felix Ngole
Felix Ngole
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A religious education teacher who says he was wrongly thrown off a Sheffield University course after suggesting that same-sex marriage was a sin during an online discussion has won the latest round of a legal fight.

Felix Ngole, aged 39, of Barnsley, said he had been lawfully expressing a traditional Christian view during a discussion on Facebook and complained that bosses at Sheffield University unfairly stopped him completing a postgraduate degree in social work.

He has now been given the go-ahead to argue his case in the High Court in the hope of being allowed to continue his studies.

A judge on Tuesday gave Mr Ngole permission to mount a judicial review of the university's decision following a preliminary High Court hearing in London.

Deputy High Court Judge James Lewis said it could be argued that the decision was disproportionate.

Lawyers said a judge would probably decide whether the decision should be overturned after a trial in the autumn.

Sheffield University bosses had argued that Mr Ngole's judicial review claim should be blocked.

Lawyers for the university said the decision to remove him from the course had been fair and proportionate.

They said Mr Ngole was taking a 'professionally qualifying degree' with the aim of becoming a social worker and argued that what he had said would affect gay people he might work with.

Mr Ngole, who works as a supply teacher and comes from Cameroon, said afterwards that the case had implications for others.

"I am excited. This is not just about me," he said.

Mr Ngole, who said he sometimes preaches at St George's Church in Barnsley, said he hoped to be able to complete the masters degree social work course if the decision is overturned.

He is being backed by the Christian Legal Centre.

"The university's treatment of Felix fundamentally violates its responsibilities under human rights legislation," said Christian Legal Centre chief executive Andrea Williams.

"The university has failed to protect his freedom of speech and his freedom of religion."

She added: "Felix has worked with people who identify as homosexual, treating them with respect and kindness. What he shared on his Facebook page simply reflects biblical teaching on sexual behaviour.

"Unless he wins this case he will be forever barred from social work. Felix is entitled to express his views, especially ones shared by millions of people around the world.

"There is no evidence that Felix's views adversely impacted his work. Quite the contrary, he was a hard-working student who would be an asset to the profession.

"Sadly, this is yet another case of Christians being punished in the public arena, and of censorship of views."