According to organizers, 3,000 people gathered in front of the Finnish Embassy in Budapest on Sunday for a sympathy rally in support of Finnish politician and former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen. Today, on Monday, her trial continues. The politician is suspected of committing a hate crime against LGBTIQ groups.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
In a message to participants, Päivi Räsänen said she was very grateful that such a demonstration of support was organized in Budapest. At the same time, she stressed that she owes a great debt of gratitude to those who stood up for her and those who prayed for her.
“Together we also defend freedom of speech and expression and freedom of religion,” she said.
Räsänen hopes Hungary will continue to reject EU laws that would restrict freedom of speech and religion on the continent, in relation to alleged “hate speech,” she added.
After Räsänen’s message, organizers asked participants to hold up their Bible or favorite verses from the Bible to show how important the teachings of Scripture are to them.
In his speech, former Vice-President of the Human Rights Committee, István László Mészáros, described the trial of the Finnish politician as a “criminal show trial.” The organizers eventually read aloud a letter addressed to the Finnish Embassy in which they strongly supported Räsänen, while asking the Finnish government not to interfere in the church’s affairs.
Organizers had reportedly expected fewer participants, but after their public statement, nearly 3,000 people turned up for the rally in front of the Finnish Embassy on Gellért Hill on Sunday afternoon.
Photo via Päivi Räsänen’s Facebook page
The former interior minister of Finland is facing criminal charges for harshly criticizing her own church, the Finnish Lutheran Church, for associating itself with the 2019 Pride parade in a Twitter post quoting from the Bible (Romans 1:24-27.)
Päivi Räsänen, who is currently serving as an MP for the Christian Democrat party, accused the church of “elevating shame and sin to a point of pride,” according to the indictment. The prosecution saw her remarks as an “affront to the equality and dignity of homosexuals,” and has demanded a fine of up to EUR 13,000 against the MP.
“This statement […] is likely to provoke contempt, intolerance, and even hatred towards homosexuals,” the prosecutor’s office said.
The former minister denies the charges and says she acted in the name of “freedom of expression and religion.” Räsänen, 62, served as Finland’s interior minister from 2011 to 2015 and was also leader of the Christian Democrats. If convicted, she faces a fine or up to two years in prison.
Featured photo via Päivi Räsänen’s Facebook page