Gay men have appeared in court in Derby to tell of their experience receiving homophobic leaflets which questioned whether gays should be executed.

According to the Derby Evening Telegraph, one man said he felt “terrorised” when the leaflets were pushed through his letterbox and thought he was the victim of a hate campaign.

Five men are currently standing trial charged with new provisions against distributing threatening material intended to stir up hatred based on sexual orientation.

The witness said he received leaflets entitled ‘Turn or Burn’ and ‘Death Penalty?’, which left him “horrified”, fearing attack on his house and his person.

He 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.”

When he was found out the leaflets were not being sent to him alone but handed out in public too, he said the actions had made him distrustful of strangers and questioned whether they could drive violence against gays.

He told the court: “My fear is there are some very gullible people who would read literature like this and take it as a green light for permission to commit violence or even murder, if it goes that far.”

A third leaflet was called ‘GAY – God Abhors You’.

Describing an image in one of the publications, another gay man told the court: “When I saw the hang man – that gays should be hung – I just freaked out. [sic]”

A third gay man told jurors he thought a leaflet was handed in public was “meant for” him, adding he thought he “was going to get burned or something like that.”

At Derby Crown Court, the men 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.