“I am ready to defend freedom of expression and religion in all necessary courts. Up to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.
HELSINKI — Finland’s attorney general has appealed after a Helsinki court dismissed “hate speech” charges against a Christian MP.
The district attorney had seven days to decide whether to appeal the district court’s decision. all charges dismissed against Päivi Räsänen, Finland’s interior minister from 2011 to 2015, and Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran missionary diocese of Finland.
“After my complete exoneration in court, I am appalled that the prosecutor is not dropping this campaign against me,” mentioned Räsänen, doctor and mother of five children.
“And yet, the prosecutor’s decision to appeal could take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, offering the chance to set a positive precedent for freedom of speech and religion for all Finns. Moreover, I am happy that this decision leads to the discussion of the teachings of the Bible in society.
She added, “I stand ready to defend freedom of expression and religion in any court necessary. Up to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.
After a trial that drew international attention, the Helsinki District Court said in a 28-page unanimous decision on March 30 that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.”
He said Räsänen had sought to “defend the concept of family and marriage between a man and a woman”. If some people found the statements offensive, he said, “there must be a compelling social reason to interfere with and restrict free speech.”
She ordered the state to pay the defense court costs of more than 60,000 euros (about $66,000).
The charges against Räsänen relate to his comments in a 2004 pamphlet, his appearance on a radio talk show in 2018 and a Twitter post in 2019.
The Attorney General accused Räsänen of incitement against a minority group, arguing that his statements were “likely to provoke intolerance, contempt and hatred towards homosexuals”.
The charge against Pohjola related to his decision to publish Räsänen’s brochure, Male and female he created them.
Paul Coleman, executive director of Christian legal group ADF International, said: “The state’s insistence on pursuing these lawsuits despite such a clear and unanimous decision by the Helsinki District Court is alarming.”
“Dragging people to court for years, subjecting them to hour-long police interrogations, and wasting taxpayers’ money to control people’s deeply held beliefs has no place in a democratic society.”
“As is often the case in ‘hate speech’ trials, the process has become part of the punishment.”