Pastor Olaf Latzel in the Bremen District Court
Photo: Sina Schuldt / dpa
The Bremen district court sentenced the pastor of the St. Martini parish, Olaf Latzel, for sedition in the morning.
The presiding judge Ellen Best said the 53-year-old theologian had incited hatred against homosexuals and intersex people in a so-called marriage seminar.
His statements were sentimental and could be understood as a license to act against these people, it said in the judgment.
The court agreed with the public prosecutor's request and imposed a four-month prison sentence, converted to a fine of 90 daily rates of 90 euros, i.e. 8,100 euros.
The defense had pleaded for acquittal (AZ: 96 Ds 225 Js 26577/20).
Latzel had stated in court that it was a misunderstanding.
Although he rejects a homosexual way of life based on the Bible, he has nothing against homosexuals.
By the word “criminal” he meant “militant aggressors” who repeatedly attacked him and his community.
But the court did not accept this argument.
Judge Best emphasized that she had made the verdict against the background of the current "climate of opinion".
She appealed to society: "We should all work to ensure that we treat each other more respectfully again."
Lawyer wants to appeal
Latzel's lawyer announced that they would appeal the decision.
If necessary, he will go to the Federal Constitutional Court.
At the seminar "Biblical Driving School for Marriage" in October 2019, Latzel described homosexuality as one of the "degenerative forms of society".
According to his worldview, adultery, consumption of pornography or flirting with the secretary are "just as worthy of death as lived homosexuality".
Latzel also vilified the debate about gender roles: "The whole gender crap is an attack on God's order of creation, is deeply diabolical and satanic," he said in an audio recording of the event.
Children would be indoctrinated in schools
"This homolobby, this devilish thing, is getting stronger and stronger, ever more massive, pushing more and more into it." Everywhere there were "these criminals from this Christopher Street Day".
Evangelical regional church held back
The Bremen Evangelical Church opened disciplinary proceedings against the pastor in May, but then let it rest.
They wanted to wait for the verdict of the district court, it said.
When asked about the pastor's hateful tirades, the chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, told SPIEGEL: "Intolerance is against the gospel, pejorative and discriminatory attitudes must have no place in the church."
In an online petition, the theologian is backed by more than 20,000 supporters, and almost 14,000 signatories are calling for his removal on another portal.
Latzel had come under criticism several times in the past, among other things for defaming Buddhists, Catholics and Muslims in 2015.
The arch-conservative clergyman and his congregation made nationwide headlines in 2008 when they denied a pastor the pulpit because they strictly reject the ordination of women.
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