Päivi Räsänen’s fight for freedom of speech is not over in Finland
Finnish Christian politician Päivi Räsänen says she is ready to defend freedom of speech and religion again as public prosecutors have announced they will appeal her legal victory in a lawsuit in which she faced the possibility of six years in prison for sharing her deeply held biblical beliefs on sexuality and marriage.
Finland’s public prosecutors announced last week that they will appeal the March 30 verdict by the Helsinki District Court, which threw out the charges against Räsänen, a member of Parliament from the Christian Democratic Party, who says her lawyers are ready to respond to it.
“I had hoped that the prosecutors would have settled for this ruling … [But] I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights,” Räsänen, former minister of the Interior, told Christian Today in an interview. She says her case is “important for Bible-believing Christians, but also more widely for freedom of speech.”
“The ruling gives a very solid and good foundation to defend our foundational rights in the Court of Appeal,” she continued, explaining that vague “hate speech” laws would be targeted against Christians.
“It is important to remember that there is no universally agreed definition of ‘hate speech,’” she said. “Nobody knows exactly what it is. If hate speech was in our legislation, there would be a great risk that it limited our freedoms.”
In its verdict in favor of Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, a three-judge panel on the Helsinki District Court determined that the government should not be interpreting “biblical concepts.”
The court reasoned that statements made by the former interior minister didn’t constitute hate speech even though they might have offended members of the LGBT community.