FILE PHOTO: Finnish Member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen, accused of incitements against a minority group, arrives to attend a court session at Helsinki District Court in Helsinki, Finland January 24, 2022. Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto/via REUTERS/File Photo

March 30, 2022

HELSINKI (Reuters) – 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 also called homosexuality a “genetic degeneration” in a radio programme in 2019.

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)

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