Finland’s Former Interior Minister On Trial for Bible Verse ‘Hate Speech’

Chairwoman Päivi Räsänen of the Christian Democrats campaigns in Helsinki, Finland on April 18, 2015 ahead of the parliamentary elections to take place on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Finns go to the polls on Sunday in legislative elections widely expected to oust the country's left-right coalition amid growing discontent over …
Roni Rekomaa/AFP via Getty Images

A Finnish MP who previously served as the country’s Interior Minister has gone on trial for hate speech over an online post that included a bible verse.

Päivi Räsänen, an MP for Finland’s Christian Democrats party, has gone on trial in a court in Helsinki for hate speech against LGBT+ people.

The nation’s former interior minister had made comments online criticising the Finnish Lutheran Church for associating itself with a pro-LGBT event, saying that the church was “elevating shame and sin to a point of pride”.

According to a report by AFP, a tweet posted on social media by the ex-minister was accompanied by a picture of a bible verse that described homosexuality as “shameful” and “unnatural”.

Prosecutors have now claimed that Räsänen should be prosecuted over her remarks, the MP’s criticisms being an “affront to the equality and dignity of homosexuals”.

The BBC reports that the Helsinki court will now be forced to decide whether citing a bible verse can be considered a crime in some scenarios.

Arriving at the court on Monday with a bible in hand, the BBC reports the MP as saying that she was “honoured to be defending freedom of speech and religion”.

“I hope that today it can become clear that I have no wish to offend any group of people, but this is a question of saving people for eternal life,” Räsänen also said according to the broadcaster.

If convicted, the MP faces a possible prison sentence, though the prosecution has advocated instead for a fine of up to €13,000.

Räsänen is far from the only Christian currently facing possible legal ramifications for comments deemed off-colour by authorities.

A Lutheran Bishop in Finland is also facing charges over republishing the MP’s writings, having reposted an article by the MP online in which she reiterates her claims regarding the Lutheran Church’s decision to associate with a pro-LGBT event.

Meanwhile, a Christian politician in Indonesia has been arrested for hate speech against Islam over a post he made online that references neither the religion nor its prophet.

Ferdinand Hutahaean, who has since apologised for his comments, now faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.

Jaya M. Aminm, who is the Regional Council of the Alumni Corps of the Islamic Student Association, praised the politician’s arrest.

“…the name of Allah is definitely not to be played with,” Aminm said. “We must take care of each other amid the plurality of this nation, which we love so much. Different religions are required to respect each other.”

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