(This March 30 story corrects to remove reference to 2019 statement on homosexuality that Rasanen did not make)
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, 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)