Free Speech Victory: Finnish Lawmaker Acquitted on ‘Hate Speech’ Charge

November 15th, 2023 4:20 PM

A Finnish court just dismissed all charges against lawmaker Päivi Räsänen, who was targeted for stating Biblical truths online.

Back in 2019, Räsänen, a Finnish Member of Parliament, tweeted criticism of her Christian denomination and its celebration of LGBTQ ideology, pointing out how such actions are condemned by Romans 1:24-27, per Catholic News Agency (CNA). By 2021, she was charged with “hate speech.” But now she is no longer facing jail and expensive fines. “The court has fully endorsed and upheld the decision of the district court, which recognized everyone’s right to free speech,” Räsänen rejoiced. Finnish Lutheran bishop Juhana Pohjola, also tried for hate speech after sharing Räsänen’s pamphlet, was just acquitted too.

The Finnish District Court initially acquitted the MP in 2022, but that decision was appealed by prosecutors, CNA reported. The Helsinki Court of Appeal unanimously upheld Räsänen’s acquittal on Nov. 14. The court announced that there was “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.”

But, as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International executive director Paul Coleman pointed out, Räsänen, a mother and grandmother, faced years of unnecessary litigation over free speech. “So-called ‘hate-speech’ laws [are a] grave threat to our democracies,” he insisted. “In a free and democratic society, all should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship.” ADF represented Räsänen legally.

Räsänen, finally free of the charges of “agitation against a minority group” and “hate speech,” expressed her hope that her trial will help prevent more undermining of free speech. “It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective,” the Finnish lawmaker said in statements shared by ADF. “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.” 

She added, “I sincerely hope other innocent people will be spared the same ordeal for simply voicing their convictions.”

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