Finnish politician found not guilty of hate speech over bible tweetFreedom of Speech
In a win for free speech, today the Helsinki Court of Appeal has dismissed all charges against Finnish member of parliament Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola.
Räsänen, Finland’s former Interior Minister, was charged with 'agitation against a minority group' in 2021 under a section of the Finnish criminal code titled 'war crimes and crimes against humanity'.
Her 'crime'? She shared her Christian beliefs on marriage and sexual ethics in a 2019 tweet and also in a live radio debate and a 2004 pamphlet. Bishop Pohjola was charged for publishing this pamphlet.
Speaking after her victory, Päivi Räsänen said:
She went on to say:
Räsänen had previously been aquitted by the District Court in March 2022. In today's ruling, the Helsinki appeal court dismissed the arguments of the state prosecutor. It found that it
The prosecution could still appeal a final time to the Supreme Court and has until 15 January 2024 to do so.
What were the charges?
At the heart of this trial was a clash between hate crime and hate speech laws and freedom of expression, which is protected in International law.
The prosecution alleged that Räsänen's interpretation of the Bible was 'criminal'. Her interpretation was simple: marriage is between one man and one woman. This is the orthodox, historic Christian teaching and has been for centuries.
In her opening statement during the trial on 31 August 2023, Finnish state prosecutor Anu Mantila said:
Throughout the four year ordeal, Dr. Päivi Räsänen MP, Bishop Juhana Pohjola have been supported by ADF International. Commenting on today's result, its Executive Director Paul Coleman said:
Picture courtesy of ADF International.