A Finnish politician who won a legal battle over her freedom of speech and religion said she is ready to defend it again amidst an appeal.
Finnish Christian politician Päivi Räsänen said she is ready to defend freedom of speech and religion once again after public prosecutors announced an appeal of her legal victory in a case that accused her of hate speech. The lawsuit in question was one filed against her after she expressed her biblical views on marriage between one man and one woman, which was labeled as hate speech.
According to the Christian Post, Finland's prosecutors announced last week that they will appeal the decision of the Helsinki District Court given on March 30, in which they rejected the hate speech charges against Räsänen. The lawyers for the member of Parliament from the Christian Democratic Party said that they are ready to respond to the appeal.
"I had hoped that the prosecutors would have settled for this ruling," Räsänen told Christian Today. "[But] I am ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts, also in the European Court of Human Rights."
The Christian MP from Finland said that her case is "important for Bible-believing Christians, but also more widely for freedom of speech." She added, "The ruling gives a very solid and good foundation to defend our foundational rights in the Court of Appeal."
Räsänen argued that people must remember that "there is no universally agreed definition of 'hate speech" and that hate speech was indeed in Finland's legislation, "there would be a great risk that it limited our freedoms."
On March 30, a three-judge panel on the Helsinki District Court decided that the Finnish government should not be interpreting "biblical concepts" in response to the lawsuit, therefore ruling in favor of Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. The court decided that the former interior minister's statements did not constitute hate speech despite having offended the LGBT community. The court also ruled that the prosecution must pay the legal costs associated with the trial.
According to Reuters, Räsänen was accused of calling homosexuality "a developmental disorder" in an online pamphlet released in 2004 and co-written by Pohjola titled "Male and Female He Created Them: Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity." In 2019, Räsänen on Twitter again took aim on homosexuality, calling it "a shame and a sin" on Twitter.
In January, Räsänen defended her statements, saying, "Obviously, Christians sticking to the Bible's teachings have the right to participate in public debate."
An opinion piece published on The Hill in March reported that the maximum sentence for Räsänen could have been two years in jail and a fine, which it called "absurd," because, "Free societies do not fine individuals for peaceful speech, no matter how unpopular an opinion might be."
Advocates for free speech are now fearful that the charges against Räsänen, which were eventually dropped, would have a "chilling effect" on religious expression. The op-ed also warned, "Dangerous attacks on freedom of expression are coming to the United States - and in some respects, they're already here." An example of this is how social media platforms have become "quick to remove users - including public figures - for anything they deem to be hateful content."