Three men were yesterday jailed after becoming the first to be convicted of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation for handing out a leaflet calling for gay people to be executed.
Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed gave out the pamphlet, entitled The Death Penalty?, that showed an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and quoted Islamic texts that said capital punishment was the only way to rid society of homosexuality.
Ali was jailed for two years and Ahmed and Javed for 15 months each.
Following a trial at Derby Crown Court last month, they were convicted by a jury of distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation – the first prosecution of its kind since legislation came into force in March 2010.
Two other men, Mehboob Hussain and Umar Javed, who were also charged with the same offence, were found not guilty.
The Death Penalty? leaflet stated that the Islamic verdict on anyone caught committing homosexuality is to apply capital punishment to both parties involved.
Sentencing the men, Judge John Burgess, Recorder of Derby, told them: “You have been convicted of intending to stir up hatred.
“It follows that your intention was to do great harm in a peaceful community.”
He went on: “Much has been said during the course of this trial about freedom of expression, and the freedom to preach strongly held beliefs; beliefs, which may have some foundation in scripture. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy and a basic ingredient of any free society.
“Parliament clearly had this very much in mind when this legislation was passed.”
New legislation was passed in March 2010 to include homophobia, about three months before the offences took place.
The legislation, the judge said, was passed in order to urge people to refrain from behaviour which would stir up hatred. He said: “There was no intention to stifle debate, merely to protect.”
The two-week trial heard that the men, who are all from Derby, admitted distributing the leaflet but said they were simply quoting and following what their religion teaches about homosexuality and did not intend to threaten anyone.
Taxi driver Ali, 42, was found guilty of four counts of distribution on July 2 and July 4.
Ahmed, 28, who is married with a nine-month-old daughter, and Razwan Javed, 28, who is single and lives with his parents and grandparents, were convicted of distribution in the area of the mosque on July 2.