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University accused of double standards over LGBT, Islam and Christian beliefs

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A Christian student has accused Sheffield University of "appalling double standards" in its decision to expel him from a social work course after he expressed his Christian beliefs on Facebook.

Felix Ngole, 39, of Barnsley, made the accusation after new evidence was submitted to a Judicial Review hearing today at the High Court in London.

The evidence highlights the LGBT campaigning activity of a key university official, and the university's behaviour in relation to a controversial Islamic speaker.

Felix was removed from his course by a ruling from a university ‘Fitness to Practise’ Committee after he articulated his Christian beliefs about sexual ethics and marriage during a Facebook discussion.

Felix is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, and is being represented in court by standing counsel and leading human rights barrister, Paul Diamond.

Speaking in court, Paul Diamond underlined the importance of free speech to society:

"If you philosophically believe in free speech, people should have the right to say what you don’t want to hear... Society must be rational in its restrictions of free speech. Otherwise, free speech would be at the mercy of the most militant, most aggressive, most hurt, or even the most violent."

The hearing is expected to last until Wednesday 4th October.

 

'Conflict of interest'

Felix's barrister also submitted evidence today that the committee was chaired by a prominent and long-standing LGBT campaigner, Professor Jacqueline Marsh, and that both she and the university failed to disclose her interest in the issue at any point during the proceedings.

Evidence of the professor’s LGBT campaigning history has been submitted as part of Felix's call to have the committee's decision overturned and his place on the MA course restored.

The professor's undisclosed conflict of interest makes the committee's decision unsafe, Felix says.

Unless the decision is reversed and he is restored to his course, he will effectively be barred from serving society as a social worker, Felix adds.

 

'Double standards'

Felix has also submitted evidence to the court that in December 2015 the university allowed an Islamic teacher, Fadel Soliman, to speak to a segregated student audience, and that during the presentation Mr Soliman promoted his YouTube channel on which he sets out an Islamic case for domestic violence, sex slavery, and polygamy.

The university has defended its handling of the Islamic speaker's visit.

But just weeks before the visit the university had told Felix Ngole that his comments on Facebook were being investigated, comments for which he was later removed from his course by the university.

The university's approach to the Islamic speaker, and the LGBT campaigning history of the chair of the disciplinary committee, smack of double standards, when compared to his own treatment, Felix says.

 

'Bar to public office'

In 2015, during a Facebook discussion prompted by a news story on Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, Mr Ngole put forward his Christian beliefs on the issue and argued that "same sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God’s words and man’s sentiments would not change His words".

But nearly two months later, he received an email from a university official telling him that his comments were being investigated.

Then in February 2016, a 'Fitness to Practise' committee at Sheffield University removed Mr Ngole from his two-year MA course.

In April, Mr Ngole won the right to today's Judicial Review of the university's decision to remove him.

The court will effectively be ruling on whether biblical beliefs about sexuality, marriage and family are a bar to public office, Mr Ngole says.

 

'Under a dictatorship'

Commenting on his case, Felix Ngole, said:

“I was born in Cameroon, under a dictatorship, where free speech was heavily censored. I had always been led to believe that in the UK people could share their beliefs and opinions without fear of persecution from public authorities. Of all places, I would expect universities to be places for free exchange of ideas and debate. It is shocking that, as a student, I can be thrown out just for believing in the Bible.

“I find it unbelievable that the person presiding over the disciplinary panel was a ‘proud’ Lesbian and a veteran LGBT activist, and that fact was never disclosed to me.

"I am also amazed by how the university has handled the visit of the controversial Islamic speaker.

"I am shocked by this new evidence. As far as I can see, the university is guilty of appalling double standards.

“Students go to university to discuss, debate and learn. We are seeing people banned from speaking at debating societies, and pressure groups banning anyone who dares to disagree with the liberal agenda being set by them. My case highlights the complicity of the liberal elite in this worrying movement.

“Instead of banning Christian students, universities should concern themselves with the increasing censorship of Christian belief and lack of religious literacy. Britain has led the world in education and is now in danger of becoming a laughing stock”.


'Totalitarian'

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“Felix’s case is another example of just how totalitarian the LGBT movement is. They cannot tolerate any whiff of dissent. They demand not just tolerance, but unanimous approval and celebration. Anything less is met with name-calling, vilification and punishment. This lobby is deeply illiberal and unkind. We can only pray for them.

“The university's decision is a fundamental violation of Felix’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. He was severely penalised for holding, manifesting and expressing views based on Christian beliefs. That interference was not ‘prescribed by law’ or ‘necessary in a democratic society’.

“Sadly, Felix is another in a long line of Christians who have been pushed out of public service because of their Christian beliefs."

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