The UK’s High Court has decided it will hear the case of Felix Ngole, a 38-year-old student pursuing a postgraduate degree in social work who was abruptly dismissed from the course after expressing his views about marriage on his personal Facebook page. Mr Ngole was told that his dismissal was due to his ‘controversial views’ on marriage – that marriage is explicitly between one man and woman – even though his personal views were never even expressed in a classroom setting.
[The University of Sheffield] recently took the decision to stop one of its students 38-year-old Felix Ngole, from continuing his studies because of a Facebook post he shared that expressed disagreement with gay marriage. Mr Ngole shared a post that said “I stand with Kim Davis” - the Kentucky clerk who received some notoriety recently for refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples and was temporarily the darling of the American conservative right. He also provided a biblical argument against homosexual behaviour, calling it an “abomination” - which is biblically accurate.
Sheffield University made it clear that such opinions were not welcome on their campus or, it appears, within the social work profession at all:
His (former?) university contacted him to inform him that his statements “transgressed the boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession” and that his studies, computer use, and library privileges were being terminated.
Determined to finish his studies, Ngole took the case to court. As of last week, he came out triumphant in the latest round of the case, when the judge granted permission for him to mount a judicial review against the decision. According to an article on Metro:
Deputy High Court Judge James Lewis said it could be argued that Sheffield’s decision was disproportionate.
But bosses from the university argued the judicial review claim should be blocked.
Lawyers representing the university said Mr Ngole’s removal from the course was fair and proportionate.
They said the teacher was taking a ‘professionally qualifying degree’ to become a social worker and what he had said would affect gay people he may work with in the future.
The importance of this case goes far beyond Ngole’s stance on marriage, or his choice of language in expressing his opinion. It goes to whether or not people will be allowed to express their views about marriage in a post same-sex marriage world:
Alan Grant of Huffpost UK continues:
First, an unfortunately necessary throat clearing. I do not agree with Mr Ngole…
The question is this; should a student be ejected from their course for expressing a view on a political subject - even one as unorthodox as the one Felix Ngole expressed?
The answer, for anyone with a belief in free speech, must surely be NO!
If we are to hold that that expressing a view in public... is grounds for being expelled from an academic institution and a professional body then we set a worrying precedent...
If the University of Sheffield does not reinstate Mr Ngloe’s position as a student then it will contribute to a dangerous precedent that states that being qualified to do your job or complete your course is not enough - you must also think the correct way and hold the correct opinions. How many good social workers - which by all testimony Mr Ngole would have been - would be lost to this doctrine? I ask this, how many good professionals is this principle worth?
Felix Ngole’s case is another example of the consequences of legalising same-sex marriage. This forced ‘acceptance’ of same-sex marriage dictates that a hard-working, well-intentioned student can be denied necessary schooling because of his stance on marriage.
Regardless of where on the political spectrum one stands, one’s political views should not have the power to endanger one’s education. Ngole has done nothing more than practice his basic freedoms on his personal social platform. He did not express such opinions anywhere on campus or in the presence of any of his professors or future clients, and thus the incident should be none of their concern.
Ever since same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK, we have seen the rapid demise of human freedoms and rights. If Australia continues down the same path as the UK, we will undoubtedly see cases such as these cropping up in our own country.