Free Speech Victory for Finnish Politician and Bishop Who Said Homosexuality Is Sinful

Appeals court unanimously affirms that the traditional interpretation of the Bible is not criminal hate speech.

A Finnish court ruled in favor of the free speech of a member of Parliament and a Lutheran bishop on Tuesday morning, affirming they have the legal right to say that homosexual acts are sin and marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The ruling was unanimous, upholding a lower court decision for last year, which was also unanimous.

“I’m overjoyed,” said Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat who has served in Parliament for 28 years. “This is a tremendous victory for us but also for everyone concerned with the protection of fundamental freedoms. … No one should be punished for peacefully expressing their faith.”

Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the conservative and confessional Evangelical Lutheran Mission church, said he and his family stopped and read Psalm 103 when they received the verdict: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (vv. 1–2).

Pohjola was charged with hate speech for publication of Räsänen’s 23-page booklet, Male and Female He Created Them, in 2004. The text was part of the church’s catechetical series of Christian teachings on important issues.

Räsänen was charged under the criminal hate crime statute for the booklet as well as for a tweet condemning the mainline Lutheran church’s support for a Pride event in 2019 and a follow-up radio interview where she said that, according to the Bible, “homosexual acts” are “sin and shame.”

According to prosecutors, these statements were not only offensive but likely to incite hate and violence against LGBT people.

The Office of the Prosecutor General argued …

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