A social media star from Colombia is asking the nation’s constitutional court to overturn a national court ruling that ordered her to take down an online video wherein she expressed her belief in traditional marriage.
In the contested YouTube video, Erika “Kika” Nieto shared her views about marriage being only between a man and a woman, adding that she tolerates other perspectives. Yet the national court demanded that the YouTube star with millions of followers remove the video after an activist complained.
“Everyone should be free to share their beliefs in public. I want to be authentic with my followers without being censored or fearing criminal sanctions just for posting a video,” Nieto said in a statement shared by the legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom International Monday.
“I don’t want others to be afraid to voice their beliefs. By speaking out, I hope to inspire more tolerance of different opinions.”
Nieto’s remark in question was a response to a viewer’s question in an “Ask Me Anything” segment. She said she believed that “God created man and woman so that they could be with each other.”
“I don’t consider men being with men or women being with women to be good, but I tolerate that,” she was quoted as saying in Spanish.
ADF International is supporting Nieto and she is legally represented by Nueva Democracia, a Colombian nongovernmental organization that advocates for freedom of expression and other fundamental rights.
“Everyone should be free to express their beliefs and faith convictions without fear of censorship. Nieto’s right to freely express her views and share them publicly is protected by the Colombian Constitution,” said Tomás Henríquez, the organization’s director of advocacy for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Freedom of speech, and religious freedom, are fundamental human rights guaranteed by every major human rights treaty. If someone feels offended, the best response is debate, not censorship. Ultimately, it is every one of us, and democracy itself, that suffer when people are not able to speak freely.”
The Constitutional Court of Colombia had previously ruled in a separate case that Nieto's words in that same video were constitutionally protected, ADF reports.
Another activist took her to court, arguing that her speech was discriminatory. A lower court deemed the video content "hate speech" and ordered it be taken down.
Nueva Democracia is now asking the Constitutional Court to reverse the lower court’s ruling. Whether the court will accept the case for further review will be decided next month.
Nieto’s case comes as a former Parliament member in Finland, Päivi Räsänen, is facing criminal investigations after she shared her disapproval with the Lutheran Church participating in an LGBT pride event in 2019.
According to ADF International, the Finnish prosecutor general accused her of “ethnic agitation,” which is punishable by up to two years in prison.
“Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that is coming under increasing fire in today’s ‘cancel culture’. Both Nieto’s and Räsänen’s cases show that the freedom to share what we believe must be properly protected,” ADF International Deputy Director Robert Clarke said in a statement.
“Whether someone agrees or disagrees with certain views, censorship inevitably leads down a dangerous path. Censorship creates fear, freedom of speech fosters a vibrant civil society.”