Prosecutors have filed an appeal against a Finnish politician’s acquittal on charges of “hate speech” for quoting the Bible on homosexuality
Prosecutors warned attorneys for Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen, who was cleared of hate-speech charges last month in connection with her statements on the Bible and homosexuality, that the ruling would be appealed.
Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen’s office alerted a local attorney on the case of the plan to submit an appeal, according to attorneys for ADF International, the global part of Alliance Defending Freedom, a public-interest law company.
Even though the United States Constitution doesn’t allow appeals like this, they are allowed in Finland, where they are not.
Miss Räsänen, a doctor and 26-year member of the Finnish parliament, was cleared of all charges by three judges in the Helsinki District Court on March 30. She had been Finland’s interior minister at one point.
State prosecutors were forced to pay approximately $67,000 in legal fees by the judges. The three-judge panel said that the district court should not be interpreting biblical ideas.
The office of Prosecutor Toiviainen did not respond to a request for comment right away. In a statement released the day after the verdict, she stated, “The district court’s position on how Räsänen’s comments must be taken varies with the prosecutor’s interpretation.
” This does not imply that the prosecutor gave misleading information. The allegations are completely baseless. “
After a 2019 Twitter post criticizing the state-affiliated Lutheran Church for its reported involvement in a gay pride event, Ms. Räsänen was prosecuted for hate speech. Prosecutors said the tweet included a Bible phrase that called homosexual behavior “shameful,” which was damaging to gay people.
The parliamentarian claimed she was conveying a message to church leaders rather than gays.
She was also prosecuted in 2019 for remarks she made on a radio talk show, which a defense lawyer said were chosen from a long, hostile discussion.
The Rev. Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese, was also acquitted on March 30.
He was charged with printing “Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” a brochure written by Ms. Räsänen in 2004 that asserted “traditional” biblical views on sexuality and marriage. His verdict is also expected to be challenged, according to defense attorneys.
“This matter has been hanging over me and my family for almost three years,” Ms. Räsänen said in a statement late Wednesday. I am disappointed that the prosecution will not discontinue its campaign against me despite my complete exoneration in court. I’m ready to fight for freedom of speech and religion once more, not just for me, but for everyone. “
The appeal, according to Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International and a member of the defense team, is an “alarming” action by the authorities.
Mr. Coleman said that policing people’s strongly held beliefs by dragging them through the courts for years, exposing them to hour-long police interrogations, and squandering taxpayer money has no place in a democratic country. As is so often the case in “hate speech” trials, “the procedure has become part of the punishment.”
In an email to The Washington Times, former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback slammed the prosecutor’s decision.
Mr. Brownback, a former Kansas governor and U.S. senator, said, “It was wrong to punish free speech in the first place, and it’s even worse to appeal a majority ruling.” “Religious expression is free speech, and if religious discourse isn’t included, free speech is a lie.” The state prosecutor is oblivious to the concept of liberty. “
Mr. Brownback isn’t the only politician in the United States who has criticized the prosecutions. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Josh Hawley of Missouri, James Lankford and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Mike Braun of Indiana wrote to Ambassador Rashad Hussain, who took over Mr. Brownback’s religious freedom job in January, urging him to “condemn these unfair prosecutions.”