Finland: Opponent to female ordination fined by the Supreme Court

In March 2007, a male pastor, Ari Norro, was invited to preach in a church in Hyvinkää (southern Finland). One of the parish's pastors, a woman named Petra Pohjanraito, was one of the designated assistants in the mass. Since Norro is a member of the Lutheran Evangelical Association in Finland (LEAF), an association within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland that does not accept the ordination of women, this was a problem. There are several versions of the discussion that took place in the sacristy, but the outcome was that Norro stayed and Pohjanraito left.

The Finnish Supreme Court ruled on 22 October, 2010, that Norro was guilty of discrimination when he refused to work with a female colleague. The court slapped Norro with a 320€ fine for his discriminatory behaviour, thus upholding two lower courts’ decisions.
Norro has maintained that it is impossible for him to perform his duties alongside a woman and has demanded that charges against him be dropped.
However the Supreme Court ruled that religious freedom doesn’t imply that the law can be broken. Earlier court decisions emphasised that the church must abide by the same rules on gender equality as other workplaces.
“Actions determined by faith can’t lead to human rights breaches, such as gender-based discrimination,” the Supreme Court stated.

Around one-third of the pastors in the ELCF are women, but the proportion is growing.

Pappi käännytettiin kirkkonsa ovelta (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 5.3.07)
Hyvinge, SLEY och kvinnliga präster (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 6.3.07)
Lisätietoa Hyvinkään tapauksesta (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 8.3.07)
Vielä Hyvinkäältä (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 10.3.07)
Male Pastor Fined for Discrimination (Yle News 22.10.10)
HD: Kvinnopräst diskriminerades ( 22.10.10)
HD förbjuder diskriminering av kvinnliga präster i Finland (Dagen 22.10.10)
Präst diskriminerade kvinnlig kollega - döms till böter (Kyrkans Tidning 22.10.10)
HD-dom om kvinnoprästmotstånd i Finland (Karin Långström Vinges blogg 22.10.10)

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