Christian politician formally charged over views on marriage and sexuality

Päivi Räsänen is facing jail for her views.(Photo: ADF International)

Finland's Prosecutor General has formally charged a Christian MP after she expressed a traditional view on marriage and sexuality.

Päivi Räsänen, the country's former Minister of the Interior, is accused of "hate speech" over her comments in a 2004 pamphlet, a 2018 TV show and a recent tweet. 

Three charges have been brought against Räsänen, each carrying a two-year prison sentence.  

The 61-year-old was first questioned by police in 2019 after she criticised the Finnish Lutheran Church - of which she is a member - over its official support for an LGBT Pride event. 

Following the decision by the Prosecutor General to bring formal charges, the 61-year-old said she would not stop sharing her views. 

"I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone," she said.

"My statements were all based on the Bible's teachings on marriage and sexuality.

"I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech.

"I hold on to the view that my expressions are legal and they should not be censored. I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith.

"The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets."

Räsänen is being supported in her case by the Alliance Defending Freedom. The advocacy group's Executive Director Paul Coleman said the Prosecutor General's decision would have a "chilling effect" on free speech. 

"Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy. The Finnish Prosecutor General's decision to bring these charges against Dr Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship," he said.

"It is sobering that such cases are becoming all too common throughout Europe. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone's right to speak freely."