TV & Radio
Pastor Defends Homophobic Views At Sweden's Supreme Court
by Mattias Karen, Associated Press
Posted: November 9, 2005 1:00 pm ET
(Stockholm) A Pentecostal pastor charged with hate speech for denouncing homosexuality as a "cancerous tumor" defended his views in Sweden's highest court Wednesday, saying gay sex was an abnormality on a par with pedophilia.
Ake Green, 64, delivered a fiery anti-gay sermon two years ago that triggered a legal battle testing the limits of Sweden's freedom of speech.
Green told the Supreme Court that his sermon was meant to warn gays that their lifestyle will result in an "eternal divorce" from God.
"If two men sleep with each other, or if two women do so, it is abnormal, just like pedophilia," Green said in his testimony.
Audio broadcasts from the much-awaited hearing were carried live on nationwide TV, which is unusual in Sweden. The hearing was expected to last one day, but a ruling could take several weeks.
Green became the first clergyman convicted under Sweden's hate crimes legislation, which was modified in 2003 to include attacks against homosexuals. An appeals court overturned the ruling earlier this year, but Sweden's chief prosecutor appealed the acquittal at the Supreme Court.
The case has attracted widespread international attention, with some religious groups saying a conviction would be a threat to freedom of religion and speech. Others say an acquittal would open the door to fiercer attacks against Jews, Muslims and gays by right-wing extremists.
In 2003, Green told his congregation on the small island of Oland that homosexuality was "a deep cancerous tumor on all of society," and warned that Sweden risked a natural disaster because of leniency toward gays. He also said gays were more likely than others to rape children and animals.
Green on Wednesday testified that the "tumor" reference was directed toward the gay lifestyle, not the individuals who practice it.
Prosecutor Stefan Johansson urged the court to send Green to jail for his sermon. He challenged Green's views that gay lifestyle was the root of HIV/AIDS and could bring natural disasters to a country.
"Don't you think that is deeply offensive to homosexuals?" Johansson asked.
A defiant Green answered he understood that gays could be insulted by his sermon, but insisted the purpose was to encourage homosexuals to change their "ungodly" behavior.
"I want to warn young people about the consequences," he said. "When you tell the truth to a person, it can hurt."
Protesters and supporters of Green gathered outside the courthouse.
"We want to defend freedom of religion," said Lewi Freijd, a 16-year-old high school student holding a large orange banner with the same message. "If he is convicted, then you will not be allowed to preach what is in the Bible."
Robert Karlsson Svard, holding a sign reading "I am not a cancerous tumor," told newspaper Dagens Nyheter he hoped Green would be sent to jail.
"I don't want to be cured or surgically removed," he was quoted as saying
Unrepentant Swedish pastor calls gay life "abnormal"
Wed Nov 9, 2005 11:33 PM IST
By Stephen Brown
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish evangelical pastor who called homosexuality "a cancerous tumour" to blame for AIDS stood by his sermon on Wednesday in the Supreme Court and challenged prosecutors to send him to prison.
Ake Green has become a cause celebre for Christian groups in Sweden and abroad who defend his right to freedom of speech and faith. Prosecutors appealed to Sweden's highest court after a lower court upheld his right to preach his views even if many Swedes found them offensive, and overturned a one-month jail term for inciting hatred on grounds of sexual orientation.
Gay activists, one of whom stood outside the court with a banner saying "I'm no cancer", want him jailed and the prosecutor is pushing for a sentence of six months or more.
The case is provoking debate in a highly secular country that prides itself on pioneering sexual equality.
"I don't take back what I said," Green told reporters before the appeal, which was attended by a small group of supporters including members of the Christian biker gang "Holy Riders".
"I wanted to spark a debate and I've done that. My message is that men should live by the laws of creation which means the normal family set-up with a woman, a man and children. I think homosexuality and that lifestyle is abnormal and I want to be free to say that," said the 63-year-old evangelical pastor.
In the hearing, which could last for weeks, and was aired live on national television without images, Green defended the 2003 sermon at his church on the island of Oland, though he said he had called "the homosexual lifestyle" a cancer rather than homosexual people themselves.
The white-haired, bespectacled preacher told prosecutor Stefan Johansson his reading of the Bible and "other sources like the National Encyclopedia" confirmed his view "that a promiscuous lifestyle heightens the risk of AIDS".
The head of gay rights group RFSL, Soren Andersson, told Reuters that if Green went free, "Sweden should re-think its laws against hatred". He said "free churches" like Green's target gays "because we threaten their beliefs".
Green told reporters that if convicted, he would rather be jailed than do community service: "I still think we should be able to voice our convictions without ending up in jail and if that happens I will be showing how ridiculous things have got."
Some papers argue that prison would just make him a martyr -- a status he already has for an anti-homosexual Kansas church which runs the internet campaign "God Hates Sweden".
The case comes amid worldwide debate about gay clergy and gay marriages. Sweden's Lutheran church, to which 80 percent of Swedes nominally belong but few attend, faces a revolt by more than 700 of its 5,000 priests over a decision to bless gay couples.
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 17:44 GMT
Swedish court hears 'hate' case - BBC
A Swedish clergyman accused of inciting hatred against homosexuals has defended his comments in Sweden's Supreme Court.
In a sermon two years ago, Pentecostal pastor Ake Green told his congregation that homosexuality was a "deep cancer tumour" on society.
Speaking in court, Mr Green said the comment referred to a homosexual lifestyle, rather than individuals.
A conviction against him earlier this year was overturned, but Sweden's chief prosecutor appealed against this.
If found guilty by the Supreme Court, Mr Green could serve up to two years in jail. Mr Green was the first priest convicted under Sweden's new hate crimes law, which was amended two years ago to include homosexuals.
His conviction in 2004 was overturned when a court ruled that his comments were protected by free speech laws.
Audio from the hearing was broadcast live on Swedish television.
In it, Mr Green said that his reading of the Bible and "other sources like the National Encyclopaedia" confirmed his view that "a promiscuous lifestyle heightens the risk of Aids".
Speaking to reporters before proceedings began, Mr Green said he did not regret what he had said.
"I wanted to spark a debate and I've done that. My message is that men should live by the laws of creation, which means the normal family set-up with a woman, a man and children," he said.
"I think homosexuality and that lifestyle is abnormal and I want to be free to say that."
He said that if convicted, he would rather be jailed than do community service.
"I still think we should be able to voice our convictions without ending up in jail and if that happens I will be showing how ridiculous things have got," he said.
In the sermon, Mr Green told a congregation on the small south-eastern island of Oland that homosexuals were "a deep cancer tumour on all of society" and that gays were more likely than other people to rape children and animals.