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Swedish court
sets date for case against pastor who denounced gays

Swedish court
sets date for case against pastor who denounced gays

The case of a Pentecostal pastor accused of hate crimes for denouncing gays will go before Sweden's supreme court on November 9, court officials said Monday. In a sermon in 2003, Ake Green told a congregation on the island of Oland that gays are "a deep cancerous tumor on all of society," warning that Sweden risked a natural disaster because of its leniency toward gays. He was handed a 30-day suspended prison sentence in June 2004, becoming the first clergyman convicted under Sweden's tough hate-crimes legislation, which was modified in 2003 to include attacks against gays and lesbians. However, the conviction was thrown out in February by an appeals court that said it is not illegal to offer a personal interpretation of the Bible and to urge others to follow it. Sweden's chief prosecutor appealed the decision to the supreme court. The case has drawn widespread attention in Europe and the United States. Some Christian groups say the initial conviction was a threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Supreme court clerk Ulrika Ihrfelt said the level of interest in the case may force the court to move the November hearing to a larger courtroom. "The appeals court even had to use a movie theater," where spectators could watch the trial, Ihrfelt said. "So it's possible we'll move it somewhere else." (AP)

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