The trial of Paivi Maria Rasanen started earlier this week in Helsinki. The former Finnish minister of the interior and Christian Democrat MP arrived in court with the Bible from which she quoted passages that she is standing trial over.
According to Finnish media outlets, Rasanen had taken part in proceedings concerning hate speech legislation in the past, and she will now be tried in court over her comments. She is also accused of criticizing the Lutheran Church in Finland for supporting the LGBT movement and a pride parade in Helsinki, as well as for writing a book about the Christian vision of a family.
Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola is being tried with her for publishing Rasanen’s book. Both of them face up to two years in prison for insulting homosexuals.
In her posts, Räsänen included a photo of the Bible passage Romans Chapter one, verses 24-27, which condemns homosexuality as a sin.
Rasanen had testified that the vision of marriage that she presented stemmed from her Christian faith, which proclaims that a marriage can only be a union between man and woman, as is written in the Bible. She underlined that these views did not come from hatred towards anyone.
In an interview with the Finnish national broadcaster last year, Räsänen responded to the charges, saying, “This is deeply about freedom of religion and freedom of expression. If these writings are banned, then much more will be banned. Then come the modern book burnings that target the teachings of the Bible. I will not apologize for the teaching of the Bible — I stand by them.
“The question is about the Bible’s teaching about marriage and sexuality. Ultimately, the three charges brought against me have to do with whether it is allowed in Finland to express your conviction that is based on the traditional teaching of the Bible and the Christian faith. The Bible’s teaching is, however, that marriage is a union between man and wife and that practicing homosexuality is against God’s will.”
The prosecutor general declared in the presence of three judges that “whoever criticizes the proceedings of homosexuals, intentionally provokes hatred towards homosexual people.”
The accused’s lawyer Lorcan Price reminded that the Finnish constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of belief. He noted that the lawsuit will have huge importance for the future of Finnish democracy and respect for Christian rights.
“Even if they are found not guilty, people will become increasingly more hesitant to openly expressing their opinions in fear of facing a trial,” he said.
The attorney Price reminded that under the pretext of defending LGBT people, more and more countries were introducing legislation which restricted discussion about LGBT issues. An example of this is the proposed Zan law in Italy, which if passed, would violate the rights of Christians when it comes to freedom of speech, opinion and education.