Finnish court drops hate charges against Christian lawmaker who cited Bible on heterosexual marriage

(Photo: ADF International)Finnish Parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen

A Finnish court has dropped hate speech charges against a Finnish lawmaker and a Lutheran pastor who shared Bible passages supporting heterosexual marriage and critical of homosexuality.

Päivi Räsänen, a member of parliament, and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission had faced hate speech charges after Räsänen wrote and Pohjola published a pamphlet about "biblical marriage," CBN News reported, according to Newsweek.

It was a case without precedent in Finland, as the Helsinki district court had to weigh the importance of free speech and whether citing the Bible can be considered a crime against concerns over basic rights and protection of minorities, Reuters reported.

Räsänen was also facing charges for comments made in a broadcast interview and on her social media, the report added.

The case highlighted the line between expressing religious beliefs and expressing hatred toward a group of people, as the court said that what they wrote was "partly offensive, but not hate speech."

The court on March 30 acknowledged that the politician's words were at least "partly offensive."

It decided that as long as the intention was to speak about her religious beliefs and not to "disparage homosexuals," it cannot be considered hate speech, according to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Räsänen, a former minister of the Interior, has been a Christian Democratic Party member of the Finnish Parliament since 1995. She and Bishop Juhana Pohjola stood trial last month on hate speech charges

In 2004, she wrote the pamphlet Man and Woman: He Created Them, which described homosexuality as "a disorder of psychosexual development, among other things," Helsingin Sanomat reported.

The Lutheran Mission published the pamphlet, which is why Pohjola also received a hate speech charge.

They were prosecuted despite the police concluding that no crime had been committed, Christian Today reported.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that using the word "sin" could be "derogatory" and "harmful," and claimed that it was not challenging religious views but "the expression of these views."

"The Bible isn't on trial here, but Räsänen's words are ... The apostle Paul isn't on trial here, but Räsänen is," the prosecution said.

"It is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts," the judgment said.

The prosecution has been ordered by the court to pay over 60,000 euros ($66,423) in legal costs. It has seven days to appeal the ruling.

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