Jury to deliberate on anti-gay leaflets

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A jury is set to start its deliberations today in the trial of five men accused of distributing leaflets which would stir up hatred against gays, the first under the newly-created offence.

In the seven days of the trial which have elapsed, the defendants have admitted creating and distributing the leaflets, but deny they were “threatening” and say they had no intention to stir up hatred.

Last week, gay men appeared in Derby Crown Court to tell of their experience receiving the leaflets, which questioned whether gays should be executed.

One believed he was the victim of a hate campaign, and said: “They made me feel terrorised in my own home. Sometimes I wondered whether I would be getting a burning rag through the letterbox or if I would be attacked in the street.”

A leaflet which the men handed out outside their mosque had the image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and the words ‘Death Penalty?’.

Another called ‘Turn or Burn’ showed a person in a burning lake. A third was entitled ‘GAY – God Abhors You’.

Ihjaz Ali, 42, Mehboob Hassain, 45, and Umer Javed, 38, appeared at Derby Crown Court for the first time last January.

Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 28, had been charged in December 2010.

Ahmed, 28, said that the wording of the leaflets, handed out in Normanton ahead of a gay Pride march, were not threatening.

This is Derbyshire reported that he said to have had no problem with a gay classmate at school and that he said: “A teacher at Derby College was also gay. He was one of my favourite teachers.”

Earlier he had told the court: “We are living in a society and if we don’t stop it, something like a tsunami will happen here, something on that scale.”

He added: “We are trying to stand and voice on these issues. I am part of this country – I was born here.

“You can think of it as a little vigilante thing.”

He had said it was his “duty as a Muslim to spread what God says about homosexuality. The references on the leaflets are historical facts and quote from the Koran.”

In closing, the Derby Telegraph reports prosecuting barrister Bobbie Cheema calling the men’s actions a “blatant attempt to try and stir up hatred against the homosexual community”.

At Derby Crown Court, the defendants face up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine if convicted of the new offences.

The Public Order Act 1986 was amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 to create the offence of intentionally stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, and these are the first-ever trials under the offence.