Law professors condemn Finland's prosecution of Christian MP over sexuality views

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

Law professors from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other respected institutions are calling on the US to intervene in the prosecution of a Finnish MP over her views on marriage and sexuality.

In an open letter, they call on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to put pressure on the State Department to sanction Finland's Prosecutor General for pursuing criminal charges against Päivi Räsänen.

Räsänen is facing up to six years in prison for inciting hatred after expressing biblical views on marriage and sexuality in tweets, a booklet and on TV. 

The Rev Dr Juhana Pohjola, the Bishop-Elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, has also been charged with one count of ethnic agitation for publishing the booklet in which Räsänen said marriage should be between one man and one woman only. 

In their open letter, the 10 legal scholars said that the decision to prosecute represented "serious human rights abuses" and "straightforward acts of oppression".

They argue that the actions of the Prosecutor General meet the standards set by the Global Magnitsky Act under which sanctions can be imposed on foreign officials for severe human rights abuses. 

"No reasonable balance of the goods of public order, civil equality, and religious liberty can ever support this suppression of the right to believe and express one's beliefs," the letter reads. 

They warn that if convicted, Christians in Finland could be forced "to choose between prison and abandoning teachings of their various faiths."

"The Prosecutor General's pursuit of these charges against a prominent legislator and bishop sends an unmistakable message to Finns of every rank and station: no one who holds to the traditional teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and several other religions on questions of marriage and sexual morality will be safe from state harassment should they, like Bishop Pohjola and Dr. Räsänen, express their moral and religious convictions," they said.

Ssignatories include Princeton University law professor Robert P George and Harvard University's Mary Ann Glendon and Adrian Vermeule.

"To uphold the internationally recognized rights of freedom of expression and religious liberty, the United States must now respond to the abuses in Finland as it has recently responded to other violations of religious liberty in non-western nations," they say. 

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A Finnish politician is facing jail for her Biblical beliefs: could the same happen here?

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