A respected member of Finland’s parliament is set to reappear in court for a second time facing “hate speech” charges for a social media post citing Bible verses, more than a year after a district court dismissed the charges against her.
In a press release, Parliament Member Päivi Räsänen, a 62-year-old medical doctor and grandmother of seven, said that she is “ready to defend her freedom of expression in all necessary courts.”
Her second court hearing is set to span two days and take place on August 31 at 9 a.m. and September 1 in the Helsinki Court of Appeals in the Northern European country’s capital.
In February 2022, the Helsinki District Court’s unanimously dismissed the hate speech charges over Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola’s Christian beliefs about marriage.
In a 2019 tweet, Räsänen questioned her church’s sponsorship of an LGBTQ Pride event, and linked to an Instagram post with a picture of Romans 1:24-27.
Räsänen said in a press release that the lengthy four-year investigation has involved untrue accusations, lengthy police interrogations, district court hearings and an upcoming appeal hearing – despite the unanimous acquittal.
“The content of my writings and my speeches represents the classical Christian view of marriage and sexuality, the same as the Churches have generally taught for two millennia,” Räsänen wrote in a press release. “I do not condone insulting, threatening or slandering anyone, and my statements have not included content of such a nature.”
The Finnish lawmaker said the 34-page English version of the complaint “openly attacks the core teachings of the Christian faith,” after prosecutors previously compared the Bible to Mein Kampf.
When the charges were announced, Finland’s state prosecutor said that Räsänen’s comments were made to cause intolerance, contempt and hatred toward homosexuals.
During the first trial, prosecutors read unrelated Bible verses as “bad” speech, allegedly that the use of the word “sin” could be harmful.
Räsänen said the trial has a “deterrent effect of curtailing freedom of expression and religion.”
“If writings based on biblical teachings were to be condemned, that would mean a serious restriction of freedom of religion. It is natural that this would raise concerns among Christians both in Finland and internationally,” she said.
Räsänen said that she is ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in, “all necessary courts, even the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.”
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