A Finnish politician is facing two years of jail time for so-called ‘hate speech’, after the prosecutor general brought three criminal charges against her.
As reported in previous editions of ET, former minister of the interior Päivi Räsänen has been under investigation ever since 2019 when she objected to the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s decision to sponsor a LGBT pride event.
At the time, she used social media to post a photo of a Bible, opened at Romans 1:24-27, along with the comment, ‘How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?’
She is also charged with ‘hate speech’ for comments she made defending traditional marriage in a 2004 pamphlet, and for comments made on a 2019 radio show.
Räsänen, who is also a medical doctor, mother of five, and grandmother of six, has defended her right to freedom of speech and the right to voice honestly held religious beliefs.
In a statement, she said, ‘I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering, or insulting anyone.
‘My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality … and I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech.’
The politician is being defended by international advocacy organisation ADF International, which said the Finnish prosecutor’s pronouncement was creating a ‘culture of fear and censorship’.
Since the investigation against Räsänen started in 2019, she has attended several lengthy police interviews about her beliefs, and had to wait more than 12 months for the General Prosecutor to decide to proceed with the prosecution.
According to Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, ‘Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
‘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.’
Despite the jail sentence hanging over her, Räsänen said she refused to be intimidated or censored for stating Biblical beliefs.
She said, ‘I hold on to the view that my expressions are legal and they should not be censored. I will not back down from my views.
‘I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets.’