A healthcare provider in the United Kingdom withdrew a job offer to a social worker after discovering his Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality.
Touchstone Support offered a position to Felix Ngole, telling him he had been the best-performing candidate the organization had interviewed. The position would have involved working at Wakefield Hospital, in the city of Wakefield, managing the discharge of patients with mental health conditions.
But when Touchstone chief executive Kathryn Hart discovered that Ngole had been involved in a previous legal case, the company withdrew the job offer. That previous case, which was decided in Ngole’s favor in 2019, had challenged the University of Sheffield’s decision to expel him from school because he had posted comments on Facebook that upheld Christian views on marriage and sexual ethics.
The court in that case found that Ngole had not, and was unlikely to, discriminate against anyone because of his beliefs. “The university wrongly confused the expression of religious views with the notion of discrimination,” the court said. Following the ruling, Ngole returned to the university, completed his degree and began working in the field.
After discovering that previous case, Hart told Ngole that he would be unsuitable for the Wakefield position. “In particular,” she said, “we can see that you have very strong views against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, which completely go against the views of Touchstone, an organization committed to actively promoting and supporting LGBTQ+ rights.”
Ngole was told that he would be required to “embrace and promote” Touchstone’s values, “including the promotion of homosexual rights.” Although Ngole assured Touchstone that he would not discriminate against anyone, he added: “What I cannot do, and you cannot reasonably expect me to do without yourselves being discriminatory, is make my participation in the ‘promotion of homosexual rights’ a condition of my employment.”
With the help of the Christian Legal Centre, Ngole has taken legal action, and his case is being heard this week at Leeds Employment Tribunal. Under the U.K.’s Equality Act, he is claiming harassment, direct and indirect discrimination, and he is asking for compensation for injury to feelings. He is also seeking to have Touchstone amend its recruitment procedures to align with its stated objective of being an “inclusive employer.”
Photo of Felix Ngole: Courtesy of Christian Legal Centre