Three men appeared in court today on charges of distributing threatening written material to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Ihjaz Alie, 41, Mehboob Hussain, 44, and Umer Javed, 37 were charged this week over leaflets which allegedly called for gays to be killed.

Another two men, Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, were charged in December.

All five will appear before Derby magistrates’ court on February 14th.

They are the first to be charged under new laws against stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The men were accused of handing out leaflets called ‘The Death Penalty?’ outside a Derby mosque.

The material reportedly said that gay people should be executed and the men are also accused of pushing it through letterboxes.

They were reportedly arrested after a tip-off from a member of the public.

Mr Alie, Mr Hussain and Umer Javed are also charged with several counts each of sending communication of threatening messages and displaying signs of writing with abusive or insulting messages, Press Association reports.

If convicted at a crown court, they could face up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine. They will appear before magistrates today.

This is the first time anyone has been prosecuted for inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Sue Hemming, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The charges relate to the distribution of a leaflet, ‘The Death Penalty?’, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July 2010 and through letterboxes during the same month.

“This is the first-ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police.”

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “We welcome the Attorney General’s decision to allow this prosecution to go ahead. We lobbied for a number of years for a specific law to protect gay people, matching offences against inciting racial and religious hatred.

“Materials like the leaflets posted to homes in Derby create fear and inflame hatred and violence towards gay people. We uncovered a range of similar materials during our campaign to secure much-needed legal protections in this area.”