• Sweden edition
 

Åke Green cleared over gay sermon

Published: 29 Nov 2005 10:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Nov 2005 10:35 GMT+01:00

Åke Green, the Swedish pentecostalist pastor sentenced to one month in prison for a sermon in which he condemned homosexuality has been acquitted by the Supreme Court in Stockholm.

Green, from Borgholm on the Baltic Sea island of Öland, said he felt “relieved” by the verdict, in which he was cleared of the crime of ‘agitation against minority groups’.

“I was prepared for the fact that I could be acquitted, but also that I could be convicted,” he told news agency TT from his church.

Gay right groups have condemned the verdict, saying that it makes a nonsense of the law.

“It is extremely serious when the church is turned into a free zone for agitation,” said Sören Andersson, chairman of gay rights group RFSL.

“We are now going to face increased religious agitation from extreme right-wing Christian groups that use the church as a forum to spread their message of hatred.”

The Christian Democratic Party's leader Göran Hägglund welcomed the verdict, saying that it is not the role of the courts to decide how the Bible should be interpreted.

But Liberal MP Birgitta Rydberg, a Christian, said that Åke Green would probably go to hell when he dies.

"That's where you go if you call yourself a Christian and defy the Christian message of love."

Green said the judgment was important for him and for his fellow preachers.

“We can now feel more free to preach the word of God,” he proclaimed, but said there would be no more sermons from him about homosexuality.

“Everyone knows where I stand on that question,” he said.

In a written judgment, the Supreme Court noted that Green’s comments went beyond what could be considered an objective and sound discussion about gay people. Åke Green deliberately spread the comments in his sermon in the knowledge that they would be seen as offensive.

But the court decided that a conviction would not be upheld by the European Court. Several comparable cases have resulted in acquittals in the European Court, Supreme Court chairman Johan Munck told TT.

“Another reason for the verdict is that the sermon was held in front of his own congregation. Still, I don’t believe that this gives the green light for similar sermons,” Munck said.

When all the circumstances surrounding Green’s comments were taken into account, it is clear that they did not consitute hate speech, the judgment said.

This included the most radical parts of his sermon, in which “sexual abnormalities” were described as a tumour. Seen in the context of the rest of his sermon, they could not be seen to incite or condone hatred towards gay people, the court decided.

Green had said, among other things, that “sexually twisted people will even rape animals”.

Green and his lawyer Percy Bratt argued that these comments were simply a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Prosecutor Stefan Johansson argued that Green had gone much further than the Bible, and had expressed his own views.

Kalmar District Court originally sentenced Green to one month in prison, but the Göta Appeals Court overturned that judgment.

Amina Ek, director of anti-discrimination organisation Centrum mot Rasism, warned that Green’s acquittal could lead to increased racism and homophobia.

“Hate crimes are increasing, especially those targeted against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) people,” she said, arguing that it is often the same groups that spread hate propaganda on the internet against Jews, Roma, Muslims and gay people.

RFSL’s Sören Andersson said that the judgment showed the need for the law to be strengthened.

He dismissed those who argued that instead of convicting Åke Green, homophobic opinions should be confronted in debate.

“What you’re forgetting is that RFSL, among others, have been doing this for a long time.”

“Agitation and threats, such as those uttered by Åke Green, limit LGBT people’s rights and opportunities to participate in debate.”

Discuss this topic!

TT/The Local

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

719
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com