LONDON (AP) — Three men were convicted Friday of distributing anti-gay leaflets, and prosecutors called it a landmark case regarding the prosecution of hate crimes regarding sexual orientation.
A jury found the men to have distributed leaflets calling for homosexuals to face the death penalty. Two others were acquitted of the same charge.
"Everyone has a right to be protected by the law and we regard homophobic crimes, along with all hate crimes, as particularly serious because they undermine people's right to feel safe," said Sue Hemming, chief of the Crown Prosecution Service special crime division.
She said in a statement that the leaflet showed a mannequin hanging from a noose and said gay people were destined to go to hell.
One witness testified he felt he was being targeted and feared he would be burned, Hemming said.
Ihjaz Ali, 42, Kabir Ahmed, 28, and Razwan Javed, 27, were found guilty in Derby Crown Court. Sentencing is set for Feb. 10.
The men were prosecuted under a relatively new law that took effect in 2010. It makes it a crime to promote hatred based on sexual orientation.