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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Death Penalty For Gays? UK Men Convicted Over Homophobic Literature

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After a law making it an offense to incite hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, three men in Britain have been convicted after distributing literature saying anyone engaging in homosexual activity should be put to death.

The Daily Mail reports:

Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed handed out the pamphlet, called The Death Penalty?, which 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.

Today at Derby Crown Court, they were convicted by a jury of distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation in the first prosecution of its kind since legislation came into force in March 2010.

Mehboob Hussain and Umar Javed, who were also charged with the same offence, were found not guilty by the jury.

…During their trial, the jury of seven men and five women heard 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.

The leaflet was handed out outside and near the Jamia Mosque in Derby’s Rosehill Street and in streets around the local neighbourhood in July 2010.

…The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) welcomed the guilty verdicts adding that everyone has a right to be protected against hate crimes.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS special crime and counter terrorism division, said: ‘A court has heard for the first time from witnesses how they felt, as gay men, when they read a leaflet calling for the death penalty for homosexuals.

…”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.

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 to hatred.”

Gay rights group Stonewall welcomed the convictions, which it said ‘vindicates’ its fight against hate crimes.

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