Yleisradio (Yle) has opposed the prosecutor’s demand to remove parts of the 2019 radio program that dealt with homosexuality.
Yle filed its defense on Thursday in the Helsinki District Court, which is hearing the trial of the Christian Democrat MP Päivi Räsänen are underway.
Räsänen’s charges are incitement against three minority groups in connection with his statements and texts and homosexual posts on social media.
One accusation relates to statements made by Räsänen in an interview with Yle Puhe radio. "What did Jesus think about homosexuals?" – posted December 20, 2019 and hosted by the editor Ruben Stiller.
The interview addressed the issue of Christian sexual morality as well as marriage, and the prosecutor argued that Räsänen’s comments during the broadcast were incitement against a minority group.
The prosecutor has demanded that Räsänen be fined 120 times a day for comments and two other cases related to written statements.
Räsänen has denied all charges, and his defense team argued in court that the case was related to freedom of speech and opinion.
The public has not been prosecuted for the views expressed by Räsänen in the 2019 interview, but the district court urged the broadcaster to respond to the prosecutor’s request to remove the material.
"The imposition of a removal order on the media in a situation where the media did not present offensive views and thus did not commit a crime may lead to self-censorship, which in turn may jeopardize the exercise of freedom of expression in a democratic society," Yle wrote in its response to the district court, adding that its duties as a broadcaster include reporting on controversial matters.
The statement further argued that the role of the media is to highlight current and controversial issues and perspectives, especially when presented by the incumbent. In addition, Yle believes that material should not be removed from programs retrospectively, as this would change the discussion and event history.
The program can still be found on the Yle Arena platform.
According to Yle, the main purpose of the program had been to inform the public about Räsänen’s attitude towards homosexuals, as he is an influential and key political player.
Räsänen is a doctor, former Minister of the Interior and former long-term CD chair.
Source: The Nordic Page