Finnish Court Dismisses Hate Crime Charges Against Politician On Trial Over Christian Beliefs
Päivi Räsänen
Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom International

A Finnish politician who was on trial over her Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality was found not guilty after the “hate crime” charges she faced were dismissed on Tuesday. 

Parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen faced state charges related to her sharing a 2019 tweet that included pictures of Bible verses,  a radio debate she had in 2019, and a pamphlet she wrote on marriage back in 2004. The Helsinki Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the charges and those faced by Bishop Juhana Pohjola, who published Räsänen’s 2004 pamphlet called “Male and Female He Created Them.”

“I am deeply relieved. The court has fully endorsed and upheld the decision of the district court, which recognized everyone’s right to free speech,” Räsänen said after the court ruling was announced. 

Räsänen, a member of the Finnish parliament, was supported in her defense by the Alliance Defending Freedom International. The prosecution must cover Räsänen’s legal bills according to the appeals court. 

“It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective. The attempts made to prosecute me for expressing my beliefs have resulted in an immensely trying four years, but my hope is that the result will stand as a key precedent to protect the human right to free speech. I sincerely hope other innocent people will be spared the same ordeal for simply voicing their convictions,” Räsänen added. 

While Räsänen was unanimously acquitted by the District Court of Helsinki for the same charges back in March 2022, state prosecutors sought to appeal the lower court’s ruling earlier this year. 

The appeals court said that it had “no reason, on the basis of the evidence received at the main hearing, to assess the case in any respect differently from the District Court. There is therefore no reason to alter the final result of the District Court’s judgment.”  


During the case, prosecutors argued that they “can limit freedom of expression in the outward expression of religion.” They also said that the 2019 tweet was criminal because of Räsänen’s interpretation of the verse. “You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about the Bible verses that are criminal,” one prosecutor said.  

Paul Coleman, the executive director of ADF International, celebrated the ruling but added that hate speech laws were dangerous for societies. 

“While we celebrate this monumental victory, we also remember that it comes after four years of police investigations, criminal indictments, prosecutions, and court hearings. We applaud the Helsinki Court of Appeal’s ruling in this case, and we work towards the bigger victory when such ludicrous cases are no longer brought,” he said. 

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