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Hate Speech Charges Dropped Against Finnish Politician, Pastor’s Wife Who Spoke Out Against Same-Sex Marriage

Päivi Räsänen
Soppakanuuna, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Finnish court has ruled in favor of a pastor’s wife and politician charged with hate speech for comments she made on the Bible’s view of same-sex marriage. District court judges in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, ruled unanimously that Dr. Päivi Räsänen’s words were not a crime.

“I am relieved, happy and grateful to God and everyone who has supported me in this lifetime,” said Räsänen in a Facebook post after the ruling. “The decision was in accordance with my expectations—I never suspected for a moment that I would be guilty of anything illegal in my writings and statements.”

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In a tweet after the ruling, Räsänen said, “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.”

Päivi Räsänen Walks Free

Dr. Päivi Räsänen, 62, is a physician, pastor’s wife, mother of five, and grandmother of seven. She has been a member of the Parliament of Finland since 1995, serving as chair of the Christian Democratic Party from 2004 to 2015 and Minister of the Interior from 2011 to 2015. 

Räsänen was on trial for a pamphlet she wrote defending marriage as being between one man and one woman, statements she made during a radio interview, and a tweet she posted in 2019 expressing dismay at her church’s support for a Pride event. “How does the doctrine of the Church, the Bible, fit in with the idea that shame and sin are raised to the point of pride?” she asked. 

Reuters called Räsänen’s case “unprecedented,” as the court was faced with deciding “whether citing the Bible can be considered a crime in some cases in Finland.” The court’s conclusion was clear: “It is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.” 

All of the charges against Päivi Räsänen, who faced up to two years in prison if convicted, have been dropped. The prosecution must pay €60,000 in legal fees and has one week to appeal the ruling.