Christian social worker’s employment tribunal begins

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Felix Ngole(Photo: The Christian Legal Centre)

A hearing has today begun into claims that a Christian social worker was told to “embrace and promote LGBTQ+ rights” or have a job offer withdrawn.

Felix Ngole, 46, has launched legal proceedings against Touchstone Support in Leeds.

He said he had been offered his “dream job” until Touchstone discovered that he had won a landmark free speech case.

In this previous case, Mr Ngole had been removed from a social worker training course at Sheffield University in 2015 after quoting from the Bible in a debate on Facebook about same-sex marriage. He eventually won the right to complete his studies after a successful appeal in 2019.

He claims that at a second interview with Touchstone, he was interrogated about his religious beliefs and told that the job offer would be rescinded unless he could demonstrate how he would “embrace and promote homosexual rights”. He further alleges that he was told by Touchstone that as an “inclusive employer”, he posed a risk to the organisation’s reputation.

Leeds Employment Tribunal today began hearing his claims of direct discrimination, harassment, and breaches of the Equality Act 2010.

Ahead of the hearing, Mr Ngole said he had been rendered “unemployable” for being a Christian but that he would not deny his faith to get a job.

“No one has ever told me that I have not treated them well in my professional experience. I have never been accused of forcing my beliefs on anyone. I have supported vulnerable individuals from all backgrounds, including LGBT,” he said.

He continued, “They made it seem that 100 per cent of the people I would be helping would be LGBT, and that I had to pledge allegiance to the LGBT flag and forget about my Christian beliefs.

“It is untenable for employers to be allowed to discriminate against Christian beliefs in this way and to force individuals to promote an ideology that goes against their conscience in the workplace.

“There was no mutual respect, and no tolerance and inclusion of me and my beliefs whatsoever. If we get to the point where if you don’t celebrate and support LGBT you can’t have a job, then every Christian out there doesn’t have a future. You can study as much as you like, but you will not have a chance.”

Mr Ngole said his experience had been especially shocking because he had come to live in the UK as an asylum seeker after fleeing Cameroon.

“The UK is no longer the country I heard about all those years ago when fleeing Cameroon. The UK then was a bastion of free speech and expression,” he said.

“I have no choice but to pursue justice again because if this is happening to me it will be happening to Christians and individuals from all beliefs and backgrounds across the country.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Mr Ngole, said that “viewpoint discrimination is escalating in the UK at an alarming rate” and that anyone who does not celebrate LGBT ideology risks becoming a “non-person”. 

“Telling an employee that they must ’embrace and promote’ the LGBT lifestyle as a condition of employment sets a dark and troubling precedent,” she said. 

“If left unchallenged it would see Christians who manifest their beliefs barred from working in the NHS and other institutions.”

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