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Finnish MP faces criminal charges for posting a Bible-tweet

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Topic | Freedom of Speech

In Finland, the Former Minister of the Interior and Member of the Finnish Parliament Päivi Räsänen is facing three criminal charges. Her alleged crime: She publicly voiced her deeply held beliefs.

The Finnish Prosecutor General brought three criminal charges against Päivi Räsänen at the end of April 2021.The former Minister of the Interior now faces two years of imprisonment. The medical doctor, mother of five, and grandmother of seven is ​​accused of having engaged in “hate speech” for publicly voicing her opinion on marriage and human sexuality in a 2004 pamphlet, for comments made on a 2019 radio show, and a tweet directed at her church leadership.

Who:
Päivi Räsänen

Where:
District Court of Helsinki

Advocacy Team:
Paul Coleman

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“I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech…The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets.”

Case Summary

Police investigations against Räsänen started in June 2019. As an active member of the Finnish Lutheran church, she addressed the leadership of her church and questioned its official sponsorship of the LGBT event ‘Pride 2019’, accompanied by an image of a Bible text. Räsänen has already attended several lengthy police interviews about her views and had to wait over a year for the General Prosecutor to decide whether to continue with the prosecution. That decision was made in April 2021 and ADF International will continue supporting Räsänen’s defense and the right for everyone to freely share their beliefs.

Päivi Räsänen has served as a member of the Finnish Parliament since 1995, and was Minister of the Interior from 2011-2015. She is a medical doctor, mother of five children, and has seven grandchildren.

“Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy. The Finnish Prosecutor General’s decision to bring these charges against Dr. Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely, ”said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International and author of “Censored“.

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