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FINNISH MP Päivi Räsänen .JPG
World News

Victory for Finnish MP who faced jail over Bible tweet on homosexuality

by Kelly Valencia

A Finnish district court has cleared MP Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of all hate speech charges over their beliefs on sexuality. 

The former minister of interior was facing up to six years in prison for tweeting a Bible verse describing homosexuality as shameful in 2019.

She also shared her thoughts on marriage and sexual ethics during a radio debate in 2019, and in a pamphlet in 2004. 

Bishop Juhana was also facing charges for publishing Räsänen's pamphlet.

But the court has unanimously decided to dismiss all charges against her, arguing that "it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts".

Paul Coleman, executive director at ADF International, the legal organisation representing Ms Räsänen, told Premier the ruling is a great victory for freedom of speech across Europe. 

"The court makes it clear that it has no authority to interpret biblical concepts," he said. 

"It also recognised that what was at stake here was the ability to express Christian beliefs on the nature of man and woman, of marriage and of human sexuality which is fundamental to the Christian faith and needs to be protected."

Speaking after her victory, Päivi Räsänen said she was grateful to the court for recognising "the threat to free speech". 

"I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders after being acquitted. Although I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal." 

The prosecution has been ordered to pay more than 60,000 EUR in legal costs and has seven days to appeal the ruling.

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