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Finnish court upholds religious rights

Member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen (right) and the Rev. Juhana Pohjola ADF International

Finnish court upholds religious rights

In a unanimous ruling on Wednesday, the Helsinki District Court dismissed charges against politician Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola for expressing their Biblical beliefs about homosexuality. Räsänen, a longtime member of Finnish Parliament and former interior minister, faced three criminal charges for supposed “hate speech” related to comments she made in a 2019 tweet, on a nationally syndicated radio program, and in a 23-page booklet, which she authored and Pohjola published. But the district court concluded it was not its job “to interpret biblical concepts.”

What comes next? The court ordered the state prosecutor to pay more than 60,000 euros in legal costs. The prosecutor has seven days to appeal the ruling. Räsänen, who is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom International, expressed relief but expects the prosecutor will appeal. She said she is “ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights.”

Dig deeper: Read my report in Relations on what prompted the charges against Räsänen and Pohjola.

Mary Jackson

Mary is a book reviewer and senior writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area.


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