Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen stands trial again

Päivi Räsänen(Photo: ADF International)

Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen is standing trial again for alleged "hate speech" after sharing her Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality.

The former Finnish Minister of the Interior faces three criminal charges for sharing her deeply held beliefs. 

She was acquitted last year but is standing trial again after the Finnish prosecution appealed the "not guilty" verdict. 

Speaking ahead of Thursday's hearing, Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, and a member of Räsänen's legal team, warned of the implications of the case for free speech.

"In a democratic society, everyone should be free to share their beliefs without fear of state prosecution," he said. 

"Criminalizing speech through so-called 'hate-speech' laws shuts down important public debates and endangers democracy.

"The relentless prosecution of Päivi Räsänen has not only consumed four years of her life, it also intimidates others into silence.

"State authorities have no business silencing ideas they dislike. That's why this case is not just about Päivi, it is about everyone's right to speak freely." 

Räsänen was charged with "agitation of a minority group" over comments about marriage and sexuality she made in a 2019 tweet and during a radio debate that year, as well as in a 2004 pamphlet.

She is standing trial alongside Bishop Juhana Pohjola, of the Evangelical Mission Diocese of Finland, who co-authored the pamphlet.  

The Helsinki District Court dismissed the charges against them last year, stating that "it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts".

According to ADF, the prosecution claims that the court reached the wrong conclusion and is seeking fines totalling tens of thousands of euros. It also wants the censorship of publications that reflect Räsänen's beliefs, ADF said.