For expressing her views on marriage and human sexuality on social media, television, and in a pamphlet, a Christian member of the Finnish Parliament faces six years in jail for reportedly committing three offences, including "hate speech."
Päivi Räsänen faces two years in prison for each alleged crime, Christian legal group ADF International said.
She has been under police investigation since June 2019 for "publicly voicing her opinion on marriage and human sexuality in a 2004 pamphlet, for comments made on a 2018 TV show, and a tweet directed at her church leadership," reports Christian Post.
RäSänen is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and former chair of the Christian Democrats. She is also a member of the Finnish Evangelical Christian Fellowship (ECLF) and the Finnish Christian Action Party (Karakteriksi Kappala).
But she is no stranger to controversy, states CP. She has developed a reputation as a leading Finnish advocate of conservative Christian positions on sexuality, euthanasia, and abortion.
"I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith," she said.
"The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets," she added.
Räsänen has become known as a prominent Finnish defender of traditional Christian views on marriage, euthanasia and abortion. Her views are often more conservative than those in the ECLF leadership.
In her 2019 tweet, she questioned her church's leadership for funding the LGBT celebration "Pride 2019," which was followed with an image of a Bible verse. She cited Romans 24-27 and posted a picture of the passage from the Bible. As a result, she was charged with hate speech and questioned by officers.
As for the pamphlet, ADF International clarified that Räsänen published them more than 16 years ago to detail her own church's official teaching about human sexuality.
"Despite the police previously concluding that no crime had been committed, the Prosecutor General re-opened the file," ADF International said.
Räsänen was told on 5 March that the Prosecutor General had opened two additional investigations against her. Her remarks on a TV show on 2018 in which the host came to her house and remained overnight are among the topics under scrutiny. They debated religious issues throughout the program, including Räsänen's personal views.
The other investigation focuses on a radio interview conducted on 20 December 2019 in which Räsänen discussed the show's subject, "What would Jesus think about homosexuals?"
"It creates a chilling effect for everyone's right to speak freely," ADF's Paul Coleman commented. The Finnish Prosecutor General's decision to bring these charges "creates a culture of fear and censorship," he pointed out.
"This is the foundation of every free and democratic society. Criminalizing speech through so-called 'hate-speech' laws shuts down important public debates and poses a grave threat to our democracies. These sorts of cases create a culture of fear and censorship and are becoming all too common throughout Europe," articulated Coleman who is also the author of "Censored: How European Hate Speech Laws are Threatening Freedom of Speech."