- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

STOCKHOLM — A Swedish Pentecostal minister who was sentenced to a month in jail last year for preaching against homosexuality appealed the verdict yesterday.

Demonstrators outside the courthouse in Joenkoeping, southern Sweden, carried banners that read: “In Sweden we put ministers in jail for preaching the Bible” and “Defend religious freedom.”

In a sermon in August 2003, the minister, Ake Green, said homosexuals’ “sexual abnormality was like a cancer of society.”

Both Mr. Green and the prosecution appealed the verdict. The prosecution called for the minister to be sentenced to six months in prison. The court is expected to issue its verdict within a month.

“To quote the Bible is allowed, but to quote everything from the Bible that condemns homosexuals and beef it up with his own condemning views is more doubtful,” prosecutor Kjell Yngvesson told the court.

The defense insisted on Mr. Green’s right to free speech and his right to use biblical quotations in a modern context.

Prosecutors played a tape of Mr. Green’s sermon in the packed courtroom. “Is homosexuality something one chooses? Yes. A person isn’t born that way,” Mr. Green said in the sermon. “The Lord knows that sexually deviant people will even rape animals.”

The case has prompted strong reactions from around the world, with some groups accusing Sweden of lacking in religious freedom or free speech.

“There are two questions here. In principle, it is very important in an open society to have freedom of expression and religious freedom. At the same time, I can understand that homosexuals felt offended,” Stefan Gustavsson, head of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, told news agency TT.

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