UK MPs concerned for Finnish Christian politician on trial for sexuality beliefs

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

Three Christian MPs have launched a motion in the House of Commons in support of Päivi Räsänen, the Finnish politician facing trial next week for her belief in traditional marriage.

Democratic Unionist MPs Gregory Campbell, Paul Girvan and Jim Shannon, representing constituencies in Northern Ireland, are behind the Early Day Motion (EDM), which they tabled this week to attract signatures from fellow MPs.

The motion highlights Räsänen's "quoted and reported comments before the court case that she will not back down from her views and will not be intimidated into hiding her faith, and the more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets".

It expresses concern "at the potential implications of that case for other countries" and "further notes the range of non-Christian groups and individuals who have criticised the decision to prosecute".

Finland's Prosecutor General has brought three criminal charges against Christian Democrat MP Räsänen over a pamphlet she wrote on marriage and sexuality in 2004, for engaging in a debate on a 2019 radio show, and for a tweet picturing Bible verses she directed at her Lutheran church leadership over its support for a Pride march.

Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola faces trial alongside her for publishing the pamphlet and keeping it posted on his church's website.

In a statement through her lawyers at ADF International, Räsänen said: "I will continue to stand for what I believe and what I have written. And I will speak and write about these things, because they are a matter of conviction, not only an opinion. I trust that we still live in a democracy, and we have our constitution and international agreements that guarantee our freedom of speech and religion."

ADF's executive director, Paul Coleman, 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.

"These sorts of cases create a culture of fear and censorship and are becoming all too common throughout Europe. We hope and trust the Helsinki District Court will uphold the fundamental right to freedom of speech and acquit Päivi Räsänen of these outrageous charges."

According to the UK Parliament website, EDMs are used to put on record the views of individual MPs or to draw attention to specific events or campaigns.

"By attracting the signatures of other MPs, they can be used to demonstrate the level of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view," it says.