A Finnish court dismissed all charges against parliament member Päivi Räsänen after she was accused of hate speech for tweeting a Bible verse, according to a press release.

Räsänen was charged in 2021 with “agitation against a minority group,” which falls under the “war crimes and crimes against humanity” section in the Finnish criminal code. The Helsinki Court of Appeal found Räsänen not guilty Tuesday, affirming the ruling of a district court that acquitted her in March 2022, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

The charges against Räsänen stemmed from a 2019 tweet sharing a Bible verse and questioning her church’s sponsorship of a pride parade, along with statements sharing her beliefs on a 2019 radio show and a 2004 pamphlet she published, titled “Male & Female He Created Them.” The publisher of the pamphlet, Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola, was tried alongside Räsänen.

“At the heart of the prosecutor’s examination of Räsänen was this: would she recant her beliefs?” Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International and part of Räsänen’s legal team, said in a statement. “The answer was no – she would not deny the teachings of her faith. The cross-examination bore all the resemblance of a ‘heresy’ trial of the middle ages; it was implied that Räsänen had ‘blasphemed’ against the dominant orthodoxies of the day.”

ADF President Kristen Waggoner tweeted that Räsänen’s victory “should resonate globally.”

“Free speech isn’t just an American political liberty,” Waggoner tweeted. “It’s a human right. What happened to Päivi should not happen in any free society. We are grateful for this victory.”

Räsänen said she is “deeply relieved” by the court’s ruling.

“It isn’t a crime to tweet a Bible verse, or to engage in public discourse with a Christian perspective,” Räsänen said in a statement. “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.”

Prosecutors have the option to appeal to the Finnish Supreme Court by Jan. 15, 2024, according to the press release.

Katelynn Richardson on November 14, 2023

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