Teacher Felix Ngole in 'homosexuality is sin' row fights course expulsion
A religious education teacher who said homosexuality was a sin during an online discussion has begun a court battle after claiming university bosses were wrong to throw him off a social work course.
Felix Ngole said he was lawfully expressing a traditional Christian view and has complained that bosses at Sheffield University unfairly stopped him completing a postgraduate degree.
The 39-year-old, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said his rights to freedom of speech and thought enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights have been breached.
Sheffield University bosses said the decision to remove him from the course was fair and proportionate.
They said he 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.
Deputy High Court judge Rowena Collins-Rice is analysing his claims at a hearing taking place in London.
The hearing began yesterday and is due to end today.
Mr Ngole, who works as a supply teacher and is originally from Cameroon, said the case has implications for others.
He is being backed by the Christian Legal Centre - which is part of the campaign group Christian Concern.
In 2015 Mr Ngole had been taking part in an 'open debate' on a Facebook page about Kim Davis, an official in the US state of Kentucky who refused to register same-sex marriages, the judge heard.
He had expressed the view that "the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin".
"Mr Ngole's comments were made in a private/social context as opposed to professional context," barrister Paul Diamond, representing Mr Ngole, told the judge.
He added: "Mr Ngole is entitled to express his religious views; and did so in response to direct questions."
The judge heard that Mr Ngole was a "devout Christian" who had enrolled on a two-year MA social work degree course in September 2014.
Sheffield University bosses said that the social work course was intended to give students a professional qualification and was monitored by the Health and Care Professions Council.
The university added it therefore had a responsibility to consider students' "fitness to practise".
Barrister Sarah Hannett, who is leading the university's legal team, said Mr Ngole's case should be dismissed.
She said the fitness to practise committee's decision to exclude Mr Ngole from further study was not "irrational".
The hearing continues.