A Helsinki court has dismissed all “hate speech” charges against former Finnish minister Päivi Räsänen, ruling that her citation of Bible verses which described homosexuality as “shameful” and “unnatural” is part of religious free speech.
Prosecutors had claimed that Päivi Räsänen’s remarks were illegal because they represented an “affront to the equality and dignity of homosexuals.”
However, at least according to the law as it stands, hurting gay people’s feelings isn’t yet a crime.
Räsänen, an MP for Finland’s Christian Democrats party, posted comments criticizing the Finnish Lutheran Church for associating itself with LGBT activist causes.
Accusing the church of “elevating shame and sin to a point of pride,” Räsänen included an image of a Bible verse which denounced gay lifestyles as “shameful” and “unnatural.”
The former minister was subjected to hours of police interrogation over her beliefs and subsequently charged.
However, she avoided potential prison time after being acquitted in what had been seen as a major international litmus test for free speech.
The court unanimously declared that it “was not the district court’s duty to interpret biblical terms” and that “there must be an overriding social reason for interfering with and restricting freedom of expression.”
Räsänen was simply attempting to “defend the concept of family and marriage between man and woman,” the court ruled, ordering the Finnish state to cover the cost of her €60,000 legal defense costs.
“I am very thankful that the court acknowledged the threat to freedom of speech and ruled in our favor. I feel as if a burden has been taken off my shoulder. Although I am grateful for the opportunity to defend freedom of speech, I hope that this ruling will help others avoid going through the same trial,” Räsänen said after the verdict.
As we highlighted last year, a Christian pastor in the UK was arrested by police on the streets of London after a member of the public reported him for the “homophobic” comment of saying that marriage was between a man and a woman.