Charges against Christian politician are because of 'discriminatory hate speech'

Päivi Räsänen with a member of her legal team.(Photo: ADF International)

Finland's state prosecutors are pushing back against the international outcry over the charges against a Christian politician by describing her statements on marriage and sexuality as "discriminatory hate speech".

A State Prosecutor in the Prosecutor General's office told Christian Today that the criminal charges against Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat MP, are justified because her stated view that homosexual activity is sinful according to the Bible is "discriminatory hate speech" and is "punishable" under Finnish law.

Anu Mantila, a lawyer with Finland's National Prosecution Authority, the equivalent of England's Crown Prosecution Service, said: "We emphasize that charges against Mrs. Räsänen concern hate speech, which is insulting, degrading and violates (the) dignity of homosexuals.

"According to (the) Finnish Constitution and Criminal Code (Chapter 11 Paragraph 10) this kind of discriminatory hate speech is punishable." 

She continued, "The Prosecutor General doesn´t charge Mrs. Räsänen for her traditional opinion on marriage between homosexuals nor for quoting the Bible or explaining its texts. Quoting biblical texts in itself is not a crime in Finland.

"Mrs. Räsänen has freedom of religion like anyone else. She has the freedom to express her religious opinions and views as well as other opinions.

"However, this freedom does not justify speech that can arouse intolerance, contempt and even hatred towards homosexuals or any other minority."

Päivi Räsänen, a former Interior Minister (the equivalent of the UK's Home Secretary), has been charged with inciting hatred under an article in Finland's Criminal Code which came into force in 2011.

Medical doctor Räsänen, who is married to a Finnish Lutheran pastor, has been charged for remarks she made defending the traditional Christian sexual ethic in a booklet in 2004, on TV in 2018 and in a tweet against the Finnish Lutheran Church's support for the LGBT Pride movement.

On Wednesday, the mother of five and grandmother of six told Finnish TV channel, MTV3: "Now, of course, I myself am accused of this incitement clause. I have to say that when that article was passed unanimously in Parliament, I could not have imagined that a book I wrote a few years earlier would be prosecuted on the basis of the article."

She expressed concern that Christians in Finland who believe in the Bible are having to censor themselves, and that they fear social stigma and the threat to their standing in the workplace if they express opposition to Pride, she said.

On the same programme, Laura Arikka, CEO of the Erätauko Foundation, dedicated to the improvement of 'conversational culture' in Finland, cited a citizen survey last autumn in which 24 per cent of respondents said they did not want to take part in social debate because they feared the reaction of others.