A Finnish Christian Democrat MP has been charged with incitement over LGBT-critical comments made on social media, including quoting a passage from the Bible.
The Finnish Prosecutor General announced the charges against Christian Democrat MP Päivi Räsänen, who served as interior minister from 2012 to 2015, over posts made on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in June 2019.
According to a report from Finnish broadcaster Yle, the charges also relate to writings by Räsänen on the website of the Luther Foundation of Finland and the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.
In the social media posts, Räsänen questioned why her church is co-sponsoring the 2019 Helsinki Pride parade, saying: “The church of which I am a member has announced that it is an official partner of SETA Helsinki Pride 2019. How does the Church’s doctrine, the Bible, fit in with the idea that shame and sin are raised as a matter of pride?”
Räsänen spoke to YLE about the charges, saying: “This is deeply about freedom of religion and freedom of expression. If these writings are banned, then much more will be banned. Then come the modern book burnings that target the teachings of the Bible. I will not apologise for the teachings of the Bible — I stand by them.”
Kerttu Tarjamo, head of the Finnish LGBT rights group Seta, reacted to the prosecution, saying: “The Prosecutor General shows that this is not a trivial matter.”
Paul Coleman, head of the Christian legal group ADF International, also commented on the charges, saying: “The Finnish Prosecutor General’s decision to bring these charges against Dr Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship. It is sobering that such cases are becoming all too common throughout Europe.”
A town councillor in Cornwall has written to Britain’s Home Secretary accusing a Baptist preacher of spreading hate by criticizing gay pride, requesting the pastor’s immediate deportation to his native Australia. https://t.co/HItn2jhgsF
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 12, 2020
“If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely,” he said.
The case comes after several hate speech cases in the UK involving Christian preachers who criticised gay pride in the last several years.
In September, a local politician in Cornwall, England, accused an Australian Baptist preacher of spreading hate after the pastor celebrated the cancellation of a pride event called “Rainbow Fest”.
Newquay Town Councillor Stephen Hick wrote to the home secretary not only condemning Pastor Josh Williamson’s remarks but called for the government to deport him.
In 2017, Gordon Larmour, a Christian street preacher, was arrested in Scotland and charged with a hate crime after he quoted from the Bible’s book of Genesis when asked by a gay teenager about scriptural views on homosexuality. The charges were later thrown out of court.