Oxford Islamic centre accused of firing gay academic ‘because they feared angering Saudi backers’

From the Telegraph

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies has been accused of firing a gay academic who claims they were worried about angering their Saudi backers.

Dr Kevin Fogg, 37, believes he was unfairly dismissed from the centre and that the fact that he is a bi-sexual man who is in a homosexual relationship “did not comply” with the preference of its main funders. In his employment tribunal, which is due to begin next week, he will argue that he was a victim of direct age discrimination as well as indirect discrimination due to his sexual orientation.

The Centre, which was granted a Royal Charter by the Queen in 2012 and boasts the Prince of Wales as its patron, is classified as a “recognised independent centre of the University of Oxford”. This means that while it is not officially part of the university, it closely collaborates on research and teaching and has dozens of masters of Oxford colleges on its academic advisory committee. But not Tariq Ramadan who is associated with St Anthony’s College, where he is currently taking “agreed leave of absence” while he awaits trial on several charges of rape. 

Dr Fogg, an expert in the history of Islam in south east Asia, claims he was dismissed from his post at the Centre in 2018 after spending five years there as a research fellow.

“I believe that this dismissal was not only unfair but also discriminatory,” he told The Telegraph. “As a homosexually-partnered, bisexual man, I do not comply with the preferences of the Centre’s major funders, including the states of Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Kuwait, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Centre’s leadership made several references to my age, which I believe to have been coded language equivalent to calling me a ‘confirmed bachelor’.”

 The Centre has “culture of antagonism and intolerance towards non-heterosexual lifestyles”, he alleges in his witness statement. The statement says that the Centre’s donors include states where homosexuality is punishable under law and in some cases by capital punishment.

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies said that it completely rejects Dr Fogg’s “wild allegations of discrimination, which have no basis in fact”. 

“… in 2018 after an extensive process of review of his work, his request for a yet further period at the Centre was declined,” they explained.  “It was only after, and it would seem as a result of, the Centre turning down his request for a second extension that he has made this allegation of indirect sexual orientation discrimination.”  They added that his complaint of age discrimination investigated by the Centre when he first appealed their decision and thrown out.

 A spokesman for the Centre said that Dr Fogg “has been treated very well” adding that they will robustly defend his claims in the employment tribunal.  


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