LONDON -- Five men are on trial in Britain for allegedly distributing leaflets calling for gay people to be killed, charged under a new law that makes such actions a hate crime.
The men allegedly gave out flyers titled "The Death Penalty" that showed a noose and said gay people would be punished. Two other leaflets were used to publicize a protest against a gay pride march in the central English city of Derby in 2010.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Wednesday this was the first prosecution for stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, under the law that took effect in March 2010. It has long been illegal to incite hatred over disability, race or religion. The maximum penalty for the crime is seven years in jail.
Prosecutors said Ihjaz Ali, 42, Mehboob Hussain, 45, Umar Javed, 38, Razwan Javed, 27, and Kabir Ahmed, 28, handed out leaflets near a mosque in Derby and also stuffed them into mailboxes.
Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema called the leaflets "frightening and nasty."
"These five defendants were part of a small group of men who distributed horrible, threatening literature, with quotations from religious sources and with pictures on them, which were designed to stir up hatred and hostility against homosexual people," she said.