Legal battle | Christian worker sues after being denied job for anti-LGBTQ+ views

Christian worker sues after being denied job for anti-LGBTQ+ views

Felix Ngole, a Christian social worker, is gearing up to take legal action against Leeds-based business Touchstone Support after being denied a job opportunity due to his staunchly held beliefs against the LGBTQ+ community.

The 46-year-old discovered that Touchstone had withdrawn its job offer, upon discovering his involvement in a landmark legal case over his right to free speech regarding his views on homosexuality.

The case began in 2015 when Mr. Ngole, originally from Cameroon and seeking asylum in Britain, was removed from his social work course at Sheffield University for expressing his views on homosexuality on social media.

However, in 2019, he successfully challenged this decision in court, with the Court of Appeal ruling that his personal beliefs did not equate to discriminatory behaviour.

Despite this legal victory, Mr. Ngole's legal fight continued when Touchstone Support, upon learning of his past legal battle, asked him to attend a second interview where he was pressed on his religious beliefs.

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Allegedly, he was informed that unless he could demonstrate support for LGBTQ+ rights, the job offer would be withdrawn.

Touchstone asserted that his beliefs did not align with their ethos as an inclusive employer and could potentially harm their reputation.

Mr. Ngole, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, is now bringing forward claims of direct discrimination, harassment, and violations of the Equality Act 2010.

His legal team is set to counter Touchstone's argument that his beliefs could cause distress to minority groups, arguing that such reasoning would legitimise discrimination against Bible-believing Christians.

Ngole asserts that, if employers can mandate support for LGBTQ+ ideologies as a condition of employment, it would effectively exclude Christians from various sectors.

Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, echoed these sentiments, cautioning against setting a precedent where individuals must endorse LGBTQ+ lifestyles to secure employment, potentially excluding Christians from sectors like healthcare.

Touchstone Support's CEO, Arfam Hanif, refrained from commenting extensively, stating that the organisation is focusing on preparing for the upcoming Employment Tribunal.

The legal battle between Mr. Ngole and Touchstone Support is set to commence at the Leeds Employment Tribunal, where he seeks compensation and a recommendation for Touchstone to revise its recruitment procedures to ‘uphold its commitment to inclusivity without discriminating against Christians’.

Those within the LGBTQ+ community have a legal right not to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or 'perceived' sexual orientation. This includes orientation towards someone of the same sex (lesbian/ gay), opposite sex (heterosexual) or both (bisexual).

The law also protects this community from harassment or victimisation because of their sexuality or perceived sexuality. This applies if they’re intentionally or unintentionally bullied, or if there is a general culture of disrespect. This could include an environment in which homophobic jokes are made.

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