Finnish court clears lawmaker of charges over homosexuality comments

by Reuters
Friday, 1 April 2022 12:36 GMT

Finnish Minister Paivi Rasanen addresses reporters during a press conference in Athens, April 19, 2012. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

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Paivi Rasanen, a medical doctor and a former Finnish interior minister, called homosexuality "a developmental disorder" in an online opinion letter in 2004 and "a shame and a sin" on Twitter in 2019

HELSINKI, March 30 (Reuters) - (March 30 story, corrects removes reference to 2019 statement on homosexuality that Rasanen did not make)

A district court on Wednesday cleared a Finnish Christian Democrat lawmaker of charges of agitating against gay people after she described homosexuality as a "developmental disorder" and a sin.

In a case without precedent in Finland, the Helsinki district court had to weigh the importance of free speech and whether citing the Bible can be considered a crime against concerns over basic rights and protection of minorities.

Paivi Rasanen, a medical doctor and a former Finnish interior minister, called homosexuality "a developmental disorder" in an online opinion letter in 2004 and "a shame and a sin" on Twitter in 2019, the prosecutor said.

Rasanen, who has been a member of parliament for a small centre-right party since 1995, cited freedom of religion and denied any wrongdoing, saying the prosecutor's claims were unfounded.

"Obviously, Christians sticking to the Bible's teachings have the right to participate in public debate," she told Reuters in January.

Wednesday's verdict is not final as it can still be appealed in a higher court.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto and Anne Kauranen; Editing by Gareth Jones)