Evangelical Pastor Olaf Latzel has been acquitted of hate speech against homosexuals by a German court after they had previously found him guilty in 2020. The charges stem from statements the 54-year-old conservative pastor of the Bremen St. Martini congregation made during a November 2019 marriage seminar at his Church. A video of the seminar was posted months later on his Youtube channel and then deleted. The LGBTQ community accused him of sedition for speaking God’s word.
A court in Bremen, Germany, has previously condemned the pastor for hate speech against homosexuals in 2020. He was fined 8,100 euros and vowed to appeal the sentence.
The court said the pastor promoted hate against homosexuals and violated their dignity in the marriage seminar in which he addressed the activities of what he called the “homolobby.”
Speaking to around 30 couples, he said at one point: “All around walk the criminals of the Christopher Street Day [the Berlin Pride March]. All this gender crap is an attack against God’s order of creation; it is demonic and satanic”.
The pastor claimed that homosexuality is “a ‘degenerative form’ of society.” Latzel warned that the “whole gender crap is an attack on God’s order of creation.”
In the process, the defense of Latzel said these views were based on the Bible and referred to homosexuality and violent LGBT activists and not to homosexual people.
The judge dismissed it, considering that “the homosexual orientation of a person is a part of its personality.”
Latzel’s lawyer said the sentence is a “catastrophe.” He described it as “the opening of a door to restrict freedom of speech” and added that “while today this is about a view found in the Bible, tomorrow it will be about any other opinion.”
The court ruled that Pastor Latzel did not act intentionally and attacked social concepts with his words, not specific people. Therefore, he did not incite hatred, said presiding judge Hendrik Göhner in his verdict.
Latzel’s statements were covered by freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The presiding judge Hendrik Göhner emphasized that Latzel had argued from the Bible. The Catholic Bible scholar Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger, who testified in the proceedings as an expert, also saw it that way.
The verdict is not yet legally binding. The public prosecutor’s office, which had demanded confirmation of Latzel’s conviction in the first trial, can still appeal the court’s ruling.