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Hate speech legislation in Sweden

The first hate speech conviction

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The first conviction under the Swedish law:

During 2003-JUL-20, Pastor Åke Green delivered a sermon at his Pentecostal church in Borgholm, Sweden. It was titled: "Is Homosexuality Genetic or an Evil Force that Plays Mind Games with People?"

He cited the main "clobber" passages in the Bible that have often been used to attack homosexual behavior. He said that:

bulletHomosexuality is  "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumor in the body of society."
bulletGod says that gays and lesbians deserve execution.
bulletGod may vomit people out of Sweden because they are tolerant of sexual minorities.
bulletThat for a homosexual to be in a committed, monogamous relationship is equally detestable in the eyes of God" to being promiscuous.
bulletA homosexual cannot be a Christian.
bulletGays and lesbians can be "delivered from...diabolical power." They can be converted to heterosexuality through repentance and prayer.
bulletThere is no genetic component to homosexuality; people choose to become gay or lesbian.
bulletNo homosexual can attain Heaven.
bulletGays and lesbians are "gripped by evil spiritual forces."
bulletHe described gays and lesbians as "perverts, whose sexual drive the Devil has used as his strongest weapon against God." 1

Excerpts from Pastor Green's 12 page sermon:

"The Bible clearly teaches about these abnormalities. Sexual abnormalities are a deep cancerous tumor in the entire society. The Lord knows that sexually twisted people will rape the animals. ....Because of these sins, the land will vomit out its inhabitants. The political response to this in our country is then what Paul talks about: 'We know God's righteous decree that those who live that way deserve death. Still it is in that very way they live, and worse yet, they think it is good when others do it.' [Paraphrase of Romans 1:32.] "

"Our country is facing a disaster. Who is to say that we cannot have an earthquake where hundreds of thousands of people could die in an instant? Who is to say that we cannot have any monsoon rains that drown thousands of people in our country? Who is to say that other catastrophes cannot reach Scandinavia? ....God can turn it around, so that the inhabitants of our land may experience precisely these [events]. We may  be vomited out of the land because our nation has left God. This is devastating."

"To think that approximately 300 of our popularly elected officials have led us down a road to catastrophe. As they have adopted these laws of [domestic] partnership and let people live as they wish. And today they cannot fathom the consequences of the decisions they have made. Only time will tell about this. We have gotten to learn words like 'incest, pedophila, and child molestation.' Words that make us shudder, that belong to the abnormalities....."

"All homosexuals are not pedophiles or perverts. They nevertheless open the door to forbidden areas and allow sin to take hold of the life of the mind. And the one who is a pedophile today does not start out as such. They simply begin by changing their gender relationships. That is how it began. To be 'faithful' in a homosexual relationship is in no way a better relationship than where you frequently change partners. It is equally detestable in the eyes of God. From God's perspective it is to be rejected, and from God's perspective it is as much sin if you frequently change partners as it is to live in a [committed] homosexual relationship. It makes no difference before God's Word......"

"Those who live that way are not a child of God and cannot be one. We must say it so people hear it. Do not fool yourselves, dear people. It is deceit of the highest level if you think you can fool yourselves. For the Devil says: 'You can be a Christian, and you can be good as a Christian, and you can live like this anyway.' 'You can be faithful in your partnership,' says the enemy of souls. However, the Word of God says something else. Delusions that lead to punishment..." 1

He was charged with inciting hatred against a group of people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

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At the conclusion of the trial, Green was found guilty and sentenced to one month in prison.

Some reactions:

bulletPublic prosecutor Kjell Yngvesson is reported as saying:
"One may have whatever religion one wishes, but [the sermon] is an attack on all fronts against homosexuals. Collecting Bible [verses] on this topic as he does makes this hate speech."
bullet Christianity Today magazine reported:
"In his defense, the pastor said he merely wanted to make clear the biblical view on homosexuality, not to express disrespect."
bulletGreen's lawyer said that the law and conviction violated the pastor's religious freedom.
 
bulletSören Andersson, president of Swedish Federation for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL), said that religious freedom never justifies attacking people. He said: "Therefore, I cannot regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion."

A search on the Google.com search engine in 2004 using the string "Ake Green" found 605 hits. Some relate to "Ake Ake," exotic shrubs which happens to come in a green variety. But most of the hits are to articles on this event published on conservative Christian web sites.

Pastor Green successfully appealed his conviction to an appeals court. 2,3

However, the prosecutor then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

Jared Leland of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (www.becketfund.org), wrote an amica curia ("friend of the court") brief in support of Green. He said:

"Pastor Green's entire speech was based on Biblical interpretation. It does not threaten anyone; it does not call people to action to place the public order in disarray." 3

Site navigation:

Home > Religious laws > Hate speech laws > Sweden > here

Home > Religious hatred... > Conflicts > Hate speech laws > Sweden > here

References used:

  1. Åke Green, "Is Homosexuality Genetic or an Evil Force that Plays Mind Games with People?" European-American Evangelistic Crusades, at: http://www.eaec.org/ This is a PDF file. We have quoted fewer than 500 words of his sermon here to conform to copyright restrictions.

  2. "Swedish pastor disowns US hate site," The Local, Sweden, 2005-JAN-07, at: http://www.thelocal.se/

  3. Lee Duigon, "Swedish Pastor Faces Jail for Preaching against Homosexuality," The Chalcedon Fondation, 2005-NOV-15, at: http://www.chalcedon.edu/

  4. Pete Winn, "Swedish Court Acquits Pastor Ake Green," Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, 2005-NOV-29, at: http://www.family.org/

Copyright © 2004 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2004-AUG-12
Latest update: 2009-AUG-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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