Police began investigating Räsänen in 2019. She faced several police interviews and had to wait more than a year for the Prosecutor General’s decision.
The International Lutheran Council described the decision to prosecute Räsänen and Pohjola as “egregious.”
Addressing the pamphlet, which described homosexuality as “a disorder of psycho-sexual development,” Räsänen told the court that she was asked to write a text outlining Lutheran teaching on sexuality for members of her church, from her viewpoint as a politician, doctor, and Christian.
She said that the pamphlet was outdated given changes in research and legislation since 2004. But she said that it should still exist as a document testifying to the discussions taking place at that time.
Crowds of supporters gathered outside the court during the trial. The American pastor Andrew Brunson, who spent two years in detention in Turkey, flew to Finland to give Räsänen a prayer pledge of support signed by Christians worldwide, organized by the Family Research Council.
ADF International said that the prosecution argued in its closing statement that the word “sin” can be harmful.
“The Apostle Paul isn’t on trial here, but Räsänen is,” the prosecution reportedly said, calling for the defendants to be fined.
Räsänen’s defense said that a guilty verdict would damage free speech in Finland and argued that the court was an inappropriate venue for a theological debate on the question “what is sin?”
The defense cited the 1976 Handyside v United Kingdom case decided by the European Court of Human Rights, which underlined that freedom of expression extended to ideas that “offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population.”
Paul Coleman, ADF International’s executive director, who was present on the trial’s first day, commented: “I would characterize the day as a modern-day Inquisition or heresy trial and the heresy was that Päivi and Bishop Juhana were on trial against the new sexual orthodoxy of the day.”