A Christian Finnish politician has been charged with multiple hate crimes, after she tweeted a Bible verse and criticised homosexuality, and could face up to 6 years in prison as a result.
Päivi Räsänen, a current Finnish Member of Parliament, and former Minister of the Interior, was charged last week on three hate crimes counts, having been accused of engaging in hate speech for posting about her Christian beliefs on homosexuality. The Finnish Prosecutor General, a leftist who considers communist Nelson Mandela to be her “guru,” announced that after opening the investigation into Räsänen in September 2019, the state had enough evidence to charge her.
The three incidents that Räsänen, who previously led the Christian Democrats, is being charged with, spans a time period of well over a decade. In 2004, she published a booklet about the Bible and sexuality. In 2018, Räsänen was spoke on a talk radio show on the topic of “what would Jesus think about homosexuals.” In 2019, she posted the Bible verse Romans 1:24-27, in order to criticise the participation of the Finnish Lutheran Church in the LGBT Pride festival that took place last year, with this last “offence” being the one that triggered the investigation as a whole.
According to YLE, the Finnish Prosecutor General said that her statements were “derogatory and discriminatory against homosexuals,” and violated “their equality and dignity,” and that as a result, her comments would “overstep the boundaries of freedom of speech and religion and are likely to fuel intolerance, contempt and hatred.” Each count could result in a 2 year prison sentence or fine, meaning that Räsänen could be facing up to 6 years in prison in total.
In a statement, Räsänen said she couldn’t accept that voicing her religious beliefs could result in imprisonment. “I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone,” she added:
My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality. 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. 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.
“Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy,” said Paul Coleman, the Executive Director of ADF International, who is representing Räsänen:
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. 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.