A Swedish pastor convicted of hate crimes for a sermon denouncing homosexuals as a “cancer” was acquitted Friday by an appeals court that said he was protected by the country’s free speech laws.
The Goeta Appeals Court said that while Aake Green’s views of gays can be “strongly questioned,” it was not illegal to offer a personal interpretation of the Bible and urge others to follow it.
Green, 63, was the first clergyman convicted under Sweden’s tough hate crimes laws, which make it a crime to make inflammatory remarks against racial, religious or national groups. The laws were ratified in 2003 to include homosexuals.
Green gave his sermon the same year, telling a congregation on the small southeastern island of Oeland that homosexuals were “a deep cancer tumor on all of society.” He warned congregants that Sweden risked a natural disaster because of its leniency toward gays.
“Homosexuality is something sick,” Green said. He compared it with pedophilia and bestiality, saying gays were more likely to rape children and animals.
He was convicted in June and sentenced to 30 days in jail.