The Helsinki Court of Appeals in Finland announced May 31 that it will reopen the case against Christian politician Päivi Räsänen.
On March 30, the Helsinki District Court dismissed all charges against Räsänen, ruling that while some may object to Räsänen’s statements, “there must be an overriding social reason for interfering with and restricting freedom of expression.” The court also ordered the prosecution to pay more than 60,000 euros in legal costs.
Räsänen faced three counts of “ethnic agitation” stemming from a 2019 tweet that she posted in which she questioned the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s support of the Helsinki LGBT Pride event, while including a photo of Romans 1:24-27; a 2018 radio interview in which she discussed what Jesus would think about homosexuality; and a 2004 pamphlet she wrote titled, “Male and Female He Created Them—Homosexual Relationships Challenge the Christian Concept of Humanity,” explaining that God designed marriage for one man and one woman.
Despite the district court’s unanimous ruling in favor of Räsänen, the prosecution appealed the verdict on April 30. The prosecution’s 26-page complaint submitted to the Helsinki Court of Appeals demands tens of thousands of euros in fines and insists that Räsänen’s publications be censored, said ADF International, a legal advocacy organization supporting Räsänen’s defense.
The appeals court has accepted the complaint, but sources say further legal proceedings won’t begin until the fall, or possibly even as late as January, according to Evangelical Focus.
“After my full exoneration in court, I am dismayed that the prosecutor will not let this campaign against me drop,” said Räsänen. “And yet, the prosecutor’s decision to appeal may lead to the case going all the way to the Supreme Court, offering the possibility of securing a positive precedent for freedom of speech and religion for all Finnish people. Also, I am happy that this decision will lead to the discussion of the Bible’s teachings in society. I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts. As far as the European Court of Human rights, if necessary.”
Photo: Courtesy of ADF International