.- A pastor’s right to free speech was confirmed in Swedish law last week when a pastor, convicted of hate crimes for a sermon he gave denouncing homosexuals two years ago, was acquitted Feb. 11. The Goeta Appeals Court said Aake Green was protected by the country's free speech laws, reported The Associated Press. The court ruled that it was not illegal for the pastor to offer a personal interpretation of the Bible and urge others to follow it.
In 2003, Green invited journalists to hear a sermon he was preaching. During the sermon, he reportedly said homosexuals were "a deep cancer tumor on all of society." He called homosexuality “sick” and compared it with pedophilia and bestiality. According to the AP, he warned that Sweden risked a natural disaster because of its leniency toward homosexuals.
The 63-year-old was the first clergyman to be convicted under Sweden's hate crimes laws last June. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Sweden’s laws make it a crime to make inflammatory remarks against racial, religious or national groups. Homosexuals were included in the law in 2003. However, the court said this latest addition was not intended to “prevent arguments or discussions about homosexuality, not in churches or in other parts of society.”
In an AP interview Feb. 10, Green said his greatest concern was not the time he served in prison, but "the freedom to preach God's word."