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After two defeats, Finnish prosecution now takes Päivi Räsänen case to the Supreme Court

The Christian parliamentarian will again defend that expressing her biblical understanding of marriage and homosexuality is a matter of freedom of speech. “I have a peaceful mind”.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus HELSINKI 15 DE ENERO DE 2024 11:40 h
Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish Christian parliamentarian, will have to defend her freedom of speech in the country's Supreme Court. / Photo: [link]ADF[/link].

Despite two clear court sentences, the freedom of speech case around the Christian parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen has been re-opened once again.



The office of the public prosecutor has announced it will bring the case (which also involved Lutheran theologian Juhana Pohjola) to the highest court in Finland, the Supreme Court.



The state prosecution argues that it is important that the Supreme Court takes a position on “how to weigh up the different fundamental rights in a case such as this”. The case of Päivi Räsänen, “is a question of the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of expression and the prohibition of discrimination, and of when expressions should be considered as punishable hate speech above the threshold of criminality”.



In 2023, the Helsinki Court cleared the Christian politician and former Interior Minister of all charges of “hate speech” in a unanimous decision of the judges. After the appeal of the prosecutor, Päivi Räsänen also won her right to express her views on marriage, sexuality and the teachings of the Bible in the Helsinki Court of Appeal, in November 2023.



 



Päivi Räsänen: A third victory would be a “legal guide” for the future



The Christian politician reacted to the news with a statement, expressing her “surprise” but adding she had “a peaceful mind” about the road ahead. “Altogether six judges from two courts have not found anything illegal from my texts, but now the prosecutor wants the Supreme Court to also examine the texts”, she said.



“I can only understand this all from the point of view that this case is a precedent. This court case is historic for freedom of expression and religion. For the first time in a criminal case, the court has weighed in on whether teachings linked to the Bible can be brought forth and publicly agreed with”.



If the Supreme Court accepted the case and ruled in the same direction as the two other courts, “this would then serve as a legal guide regarding any similar charges in the future”, Räsänen said. “The ruling of the Supreme Court would have a significant impact on the legislation in Europe. It would also more strongly secure the Christian’s freedom to speak about the Bible’s teachings”.



 



Legal defence: new appeal is a “punishment”



Paul Coleman of ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom), an organisation supporting Räsänen’s legal defence, also reacted to the new appeal. “Dragging people through the courts for years, subjecting them to hour-long police interrogations, and wasting taxpayer money in order to police people’s deeply held beliefs has no place in a democratic society. As is so often the case in ‘hate speech’ trials, the process has become of the punishment”.



Since 2019, the medical doctor and long-time parliamentarian of the Christian Democratic Party has answered to 13 hours of police interrogations over her views on marriage, the Bible, homosexuality.



The aim of the public prosecutor in the last five years has been to prove that Päivi Räsänen repeatedly violate (with a post on social media, a book, and statements on the radio) Chapter 11 of the Finnish Penal Code, which prohibits expressions that could provoke contempt, intolerance or hatred towards a “minority group” such as homosexuals.



Evangelical Focus has followed the case of Päivi Räsänen since she was first investigated in 2019 after criticising on social media the participation of the Lutheran Church (of which she is a member) in Gay Pride events and posting a Bible verse from Romans 1.



You can read Evangelical Focus’ full coverage of Päivi Räsänen’s case and her personal testimony.



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