Christian MP who shared biblical beliefs on marriage and sexuality wins free speech case

Finnish Parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen(Photo: ADF International)

A Finnish court has thrown out the charges against a Christian MP and bishop who publicly shared their Bible-based beliefs on marriage and sexuality.

Päivi Räsänen, a former Minister of the Interior, and Bishop Juhana Pohjola stood trial last month on hate speech charges.  

They were prosecuted despite the police concluding that no crime had been committed.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that using the word "sin" could be "derogatory" and "harmful", and claimed that it was not challenging religious views but "the expression of these views". 

"The Bible isn't on trial here, but Räsänen's words are ... The apostle Paul isn't on trial here, but Räsänen is," the prosecution said. 

In a case closely followed around the world, the Helsinki District Court dismissed the charges on Wednesday. 

"It is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts," the judgment said. 

The prosecution has been ordered by the court to pay over 60,000 EUR in legal costs. It has seven days to appeal the ruling. 

Speaking after her victory, Räsänen said, "I am so grateful the court recognized the threat to free speech and ruled in our favour.

"I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders after being acquitted.

"Although I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal." 

Räsänen and Pohjala were supported by ADF International. Its executive director, Paul Coleman, has welcomed the verdict. 

"This is an important decision, which upholds the fundamental right to freedom of speech in Finland," he said.

"In a free society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship. This is the foundation of every free and democratic society.

"Criminalizing speech through so-called 'hate-speech' laws shuts down important public debates and poses a grave threat to our democracies."