Hate speech legislation in Sweden
Comment. Conviction overturned.
Could this conviction happen here?
Comment by a Southern Baptist leader:
During 2004-AUG, R. Albert Mohler, Jr.,
president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, KY discussed Green's case. He linked Green's conviction in
changes in hate speech laws in Canada. He said:
"The recent expansion of hate crimes laws in Canada, intended to outlaw all
criticism of homosexuality, is convincing proof that these trends are
not limited to Europe."
He appears to be confusing hate
crime laws, which involve physical assault, with hate speech laws, which
involve hate-filled statements and written material.
The Canadian law is not "intended to outlaw all criticism of
homosexuality." He may not have been aware that Canadian hate crime
law has an exemption for religious speech, while the Swedish law does not. This
allows anyone in Canada to verbally attack sexual minorities if it is done from
a religious perspective.
Swedish Supreme Court clears Green:
In a unanimous 5 to 0 ruling, the Swedish Supreme Court cleared Åke
Green of the charge that he committed a hate crime.
Per Karlsson, a member of
the Swedish bar and adviser to Pastor Green, speculated that the court chose not
to view his sermon as hate speech, because the European Court for Human
Rights would probably have overturned Green's conviction and sentence. Karlsson
"What the court looked into in this case was not really whether he
incited hate and violence, but whether he was showing contempt to a group.
Even though he was using strong language, and he, in a sense, crossed the
line in accordance with the Swedish Criminal Provision (criminal
law), the court decided the Swedish Criminal Provision could not be
applied because that would be violating the European Convention on Human
Rights.....People are saying that this amendment is useless, and
therefore they want to change the law. But I don't think they will be
successful in that."
In reaction to the ruling:
".....a huge victory for religious liberty everywhere....Voicing one's conscience is a fundamental human right. In this contest between
religious freedom and the radical homosexual agenda, religious freedom
prevailed. We can only hope this will deter other attempts to censor
Christian ministers from delivering Bible-based messages against harmful
homosexual conduct." 1
Could this prosecution have happened in North America?
occurred a few months after an amendment to Canada's hate propaganda bill -- C-250 --
became law. However, that law has a specific clause exempting hate propaganda
speech if motivated by religion. C-250 and the law under which Green was
prosecuted are frequently linked in conservative Christian information sources.
However, it is important to realize that Green could not have been prosecuted in Canada
under C-250. A person in a religious setting is allowed to viciously attack,
targeting them on the basis of their sexual orientation, religion, race, skin
color, or national origin, etc. They perpetrators are immune from prosecution.
Green could not have been prosecuted in the U.S. either. The First
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees almost complete freedom of
speech to everyone -- including hate speech.
Pete Winn, "Swedish Court Acquits Pastor Åke Green," Citizen
Link, Focus on the Family, 2005-NOV-29, at:
"Hate propaganda: Advocating genocide," Criminal Code of Canada, at:
Copyright © 2004 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2004-AUG-12
Latest update: 2009-AUG-11
Author: B.A. Robinson