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Finnish Evangelical Duo Awaits Ruling from Appeals Court on Acquittal of Alleged ‘Hate Crime’

Two evangelical Christians in Finland are anxiously awaiting the ruling from the country’s court of appeals regarding their acquittal on hate-crime charges. The ruling is not expected until the end of November.

The case revolves around Päivi Räsänen, a member of parliament and former interior minister, who faced charges after questioning her Lutheran church’s support for a gay pride event in a tweet. The tweet included a Bible verse condemning homosexuality. Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland was also charged for publishing a pamphlet by Ms. Räsänen that expressed traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality.

Prosecutors argued that these actions and Ms. Räsänen’s comments on a radio talk show could incite violence against the LGBTQ+ community, although no evidence of such attacks was presented. However, the pair were found innocent of the charge of “agitation against a minority group” by a Helsinki District Court in March 2022.

The appeal hearing concluded after two days of arguments, with the prosecution presenting little new evidence. If the appeal fails, the case will be considered closed, according to Mr. Sankamo, a Finnish criminal defense lawyer.

It is worth noting that freedom of speech and religious beliefs are at the core of this case. The outcome will not only have implications for the individuals involved but also for the broader conversation on the balance between promoting equality and preserving religious freedoms.

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