LGBT activists have welcomed the guilty verdict in the U.K. trial of a group of men accused of distributing pamphlets that promote hatred against gay people.
Five men in Derby were originally charged with the crime of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
They were accused of handing out pamphlets titled ‘The Death Penalty?’ outside their mosque in protest against a gay Pride Parade that was set to take place a few days later in July 2010.
The pamphlet, with an image of a dummy hanging from a noose, quoted Islamic texts against homosexuality and said that the death penalty – including burning and stoning – is an appropriate response.
“The death sentence is the only way this immoral crime can be erased from corrupting society and act as a deterrent for any other ill person who is remotely inclined in this bent way,” reads the pamphlet.
Three of the men, Ihjaz Ali, 42, Kabir Ahmed, 28, and Razwan Javed, 27, were found guilty of the crime, while the other two were acquitted.
It is the first time anyone has been prosecuted of ‘stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation’ since the law came into force in the U.K. in 2010.
British LGBT rights group Stonewall welcomed the men’s conviction.
“We’re satisfied to see these extremists convicted for distributing offensive and inflammatory leaflets that suggested gay people should be burnt or stoned to death,” said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive.
“Witnesses told the court they felt threatened and deeply fearful in their own homes. People from all communities will feel safer knowing that the law now makes it harder to stir up hatred and violence against gay people.”
The men will be sentenced on February 10 and face up to seven years in prison.