gay-free zone

Gay-Free Zone stickers appeared in Shoreditch and Stoke Newington earlier this year

An 18-year-old man was today found guilty of distributing and displaying homophobic stickers in East London. Similar stickers had been spotted in Hackney.

Mohammed Hasnath, of Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, admitted putting up the stickers on the 25 bus, a bus stop in Whitechapel, Bow Church DLR station, and outside the Royal London Hospital, as well as handing them out to “random Muslim men”, between the 11 and 14 February this year.

He told police that he carried out the campaign “because in the Qur’an it was forbidden for any person to be a homosexual.”

Mr Darren Watts, prosecuting, said police were led to Mr Hasnath after CCTV from Bow Church DLR station showed stickers being put up on an information board.

Mr Watts also described how the community had been “deeply upset” by the stickers. A statement from Jack Gilbert, board member of Sandy’s Row synagogue in Stamford Hill said: “When I see that sticker I see the signs my mother saw in the 1930s, which actually carried less suggestion of punishment.

“For me, I saw an immediate threat,” Gilbert said.

Mr Hasnath was found guilty of using threatening words or behaviour, causing harassment, alarm or distress, under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, and fined £100 by Westminster Magistrates Court.

When first read the charges, he said: “I didn’t harass or swear at anyone, I just put up stickers.”

Sentencing, District Judge Jeremy Coleman said: “I think you used those stickers deliberately to offend and distress people; I hope you will think this through and will not re-offend again. You are not entitled to behave in this way.”

In his defence Mr Hasnath said someone else had given him the stickers, adding: “It doesn’t say that I am going to punish them; it just says what God says in the Qur’an. Plus, I didn’t know that the police were going to be involved.”

The court also heard Mr Hasnath is on bail for allegedly defacing a women’s fashion poster.

Related: Man charged over ‘gay-free zone’ stickers