Finland: Misuse of ‘hate speech’ legislation

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When legislation can curtail freedom of expression

Päivi Räsänen Päivi, a Finnish medical doctor, active parliamentarian, former Minister of the Interior, mother, grandmother, and Christian along with Bishop Pohjola were prosecuted for the crime of “agitation against a minority group”, under the section of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in the Finnish criminal code. “Agitation against a minority group” for expressing basic Biblical truth online, in a pamphlet, and on a radio debate.

In the view of the prosecution, Päivi’s beliefs, rooted in the Bible and Christian tradition, are hateful and criminal.

ADF International coordinated the legal defence of Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola since 2019. After a unanimous acquittal in 2022, free speech was put on trial once again at the Finnish Court of Appeal in August 2023.

In November 2023, the former Finnish Minister who faced three criminal charges for sharing her faith-based beliefs, including on Twitter/X was found not guilty of “hate speech” for Bible Tweet and other expressions.

(Excerpts taken from the ADF International website. See for further information https://adfinternational.org/campaign/free-speech-on-trial)

Despite the above decisions, at the last moment, in January 2024, the state prosecutor to appealed this decision and the case will now be brought before the Finnish Supreme Court.

Whatever your views on gender determination and assignment, and provided you do not incite hate, call for or support violence, then restricting the freedom of expression is an unacceptable intrusion into this basic human right. It is also intermingled with the right to freedom of religion and would effectively criminalize parts of the Bible were a negative decision to be upheld. We hope that the courts will continue to uphold the good sense embodied in the earlier decisions on this case.

As Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International put it “In a free and democratic society, all should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship. Criminalizing speech through so-called ‘hate-speech’ laws shuts down important public debates and poses a grave threat to our democracies.”

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