Serious defamation? Don’t remove a defense accusing the expert of bias

Are the homophobic statements made by Reverend Bremen Olaf Latzel (55) justified theologically or is it a personal opinion? The District Court of the Hanseatic City heard two experts on the matter – and the result was surprising.

Good Bible Foundation?

In the appeal proceedings against Reverend Bremen, who was convicted of inciting anti-gay hate, theologians gave different opinions about his controversial statements. While Vienna Bible scholar Ludger Schoenehorst Schönberger saw a “good scriptural basis” for the accused’s statements before the Bremen district court on Friday, Bochum theology professor Karl Isolde said they were “in no way” scriptural. The defense filed a motion for bias against Carly.

“The degenerative form of society”

Conservative evangelical theologian Latzel (54) is defending himself before the Chamber against a decision in the first place, to fine him for anti-gay hate speech.

In October 2019, he told 30 couples at a “marriage driving school”, among other things, that homosexuality is a “form of a decadent society.” He warned of the “gay lobby”: “Criminals are running everywhere from Christopher Street Day. All this sexual filth is an attack on God’s order in creation, it is diabolical and diabolical.” A recording of the seminar was later posted online on Latzel’s YouTube channel, which has several thousand subscribers.

Olaf Latzel is a Protestant priest in the Congregation of Saint Martin in BremenFoto: Verena Hornung

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Olaf Latzel is a Protestant priest in the Congregation of Saint Martin in BremenPhoto: Verena Hornung

Schwienhorst-Schönberger said that Latzel’s statements were not a “private and misguided opinion” of theology. However, the evaluation of homosexuality is controversial.

The conservative Catholic professor of Old Testament Bible studies asserted that “the crux of the matter is how to deal with Bible sayings in modern society.” In his estimation, Latzel did not advocate violence, abuse, or hatred against homosexual groups or people.

Serious defamatory statements?

On the other hand, liberal evangelical theologian Karl said that there is no basis in Christian doctrine for contempt for homosexuality. This is the consensus today in the scientifically debated Protestant Ethics University. Moreover, it is arbitrary to quote individual Bible passages without looking at and interpreting them in the general biblical context, as Latzel did. The pastor of St. Martin’s Church in Bremen made public statements that were extremely defamatory and caused inconvenience and harm to many people.

Defense attorney Sacha Buettner accused Professor Karl of bias. He criticized the “manifestly poor quality” of their report. She was not impartial and flagrantly violated her duty as an expert. With “temporary considerations” it overstepped its mandate with statements about legal issues and led to bias.

Next Monday, the third of a total of four days of trial is scheduled to take place, presided over by Judge Hendrik Gunner. Then a decision must be made about the bias request. In addition, the prosecution and defense arguments were planned. The verdict will be issued the following Friday (May 20).

In the first instance, the Bremen District Court sentenced Latzel to three months in prison, commuting to €90 a daily fine. Thus, the theologian would not have a criminal record. The judgment on appeal should not be harsher.

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