An important decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal, The Queen (on the application of Ngole) -v- The University of Sheffield EWCA Civ 1127 (3 July 2019)has ruled that a social work student, Felix Ngole, should not have been dismissed from his course on the basis of comments he made on social media sharing the Bible’s view on homosexuality. The court says in its summary at para , point (10):
The mere expression of views on theological grounds (e.g. that ‘homosexuality is a sin’) does not necessarily connote that the person expressing such views will discriminate on such grounds.
The decision is a welcome one, which will hopefully provide guidance in similar situations.
In a previous post I commented on the events surrounding celebrity rugby player Israel Folau’s posting on social media of a meme stating that various groups of sinners, including “homosexuals”, were destined for hell unless they repented and put their trust in Jesus Christ. He was immediately threatened with dismissal by his employer, Rugby Australia (“RA”), a threat subsequently implemented through an internal tribunal finding that he was guilty of a high level breach of the RA “code of conduct”.
It seems an appropriate point to comment on recent developments and to clarify what it seems Mr Folau’s legal options are.
Celebrity rugby player Israel Folau is in a complicated legal position. He shared a “meme” on social media site Instagram recently, the text of which was: “Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You- Repent! Only Jesus Saves.” To this he added his own personal comment: “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.” (The comment was similar to many other pictures shared on his account, many of which are Bible verses or exhortations to nominal Christians to follow Jesus Christ in deed as well as word.)