Finnish parliamentarian NOT GUILTY of 'hate speech' after posting Bible verses on X

On Tuesday, the Helsinki Court of Appeal dismissed all charges against Päivi Räsänen. The Finnish parliamentarian had been accused by a state prosecutor Anu Mantila of violating the country's "hate speech" laws for "agitation against a minority group" on three separate occasions where she expressed her Christian beliefs.

The court unanimously ruled that Räsänen had not broken the law, and ordered the prosecutor to pay for her legal fees, as well as those of Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola, who was also found not guilty in connection with the case.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom, the group that coordinated the pair's legal defence, Mantila argued that while it was not against the law to share Bible verses, Räsänen's "interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses [were] criminal." She added that, "the point isn't whether it is true or not but that it is insulting."

"At the heart of the prosecutor's examination of Räsänen was this: would she recant her beliefs?" lawyer Paul Coleman explained. "The answer was no – she would not deny the teachings of her faith. The cross-examination bore all the resemblance of a “heresy” trial of the middle ages; it was implied that Räsänen had 'blasphemed' against the dominant orthodoxies of the day."

 

Räsänen was hit with three counts, one for a Tweet in which she questioned her church's leadership for sponsoring a Pride event, another for a 2019 radio interview she took part in on the topic, and a third for a pamphlet about sexuality and marriage called "As Man and Woman He Created Them" that she wrote for the church in 2004, which Pohjola distributed. 

"I am deeply relieved," Räsänen said following the verdict. "The court has fully endorsed and upheld the decision of the district court, which recognized everyone’s right to free speech."

 

"It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective," the grandmother of 11 added. "The attempts made to prosecute me for expressing my beliefs have resulted in an immensely trying four years, but my hope is that the result will stand as a key precedent to protect the human right to free speech. I sincerely hope other innocent people will be spared the same ordeal for simply voicing their convictions."

 


Image: Title: finland hate speech
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