LONDON - Three British Muslim men were found guilty on Friday of stirring up hatred by distributing leaflets calling for the death of homosexuals in what prosecutors said was a landmark case.
The men, from Derby, had posted and handed out pamphlets near their local mosque with the title "Death Penalty?" featuring a mannequin hanging from a noose and saying gay people would go to hell.RELATED:UK gov’t bans radical Islamic groupUnited States denies asylum to gay Saudi diplomat
The leaflets were part of a protest by a group of Muslim men against a forthcoming Gay Pride parade in the city.
Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed became the first people in
Britain to be found guilty under a law introduced in 2010 making it an
offense to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The jury at Derby Crown Court heard how one witness had felt he was
being targeted and feared he would be burned, said Sue Hemming from the
Crown Prosecution Service.
"While people are entitled to hold extreme opinions which others may
find unpleasant and obnoxious, they are not entitled to distribute those
opinions in a threatening manner intending to stir up hatred against
gay people," she said in a statement.
"This case was not about curtailing people's religious views or
preventing them from educating others about those views; it was that any
such views should be expressed in a lawful manner and not incite others
Gay rights group Stonewall said the case vindicated their call for specific legislation to protect homosexuals.
"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
The men will be sentenced on Feb. 10.