The PSNI have launched an investigation after leaflets describing homosexuality as “detestable unto god” and directing gay people to a Christian “helpline” were posted through doors.
The letter, sent to homes in Co Derry, came in an envelope labelled “please do not destroy”, and assuring recipients protective clothing had been worn while handling it.
A same-sex couple, who were among several homes in Magherafelt to get it, said it made them fear for vulnerable people in the LGBTI community.
The pamphlet is headed with a list of “sins” – including lesbianism, prostitution and bestiality – and encourages the reader to “turn from their evil ways”.
The Mid Ulster Christian Helpline website tells people they are there: “To witness and to warn all people who would be in spiritual danger through involvement in any of the ‘ungodly practices’ which exist today.”
The women who received one of the leaflets, and who wish to remain anonymous, said: “Our feelings were anger that this sort of rubbish being published and distributed and concern of the effect of this on more vulnerable people especially young people coming to terms with being gay.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “Police in Magherafelt received a report on Thursday 18th June of homophobic literature having been posted to a number of homes in the area recently. Enquiries into the matter are ongoing.”
Cara McCann, director of HERe NI, a campaign group for lesbian and bisexual women, said the letters were “harmful and initimidating”.
She added: “HERe NI reported this to the PSNI.
“We will continue to support these two women and other women who get this material and would urge people to seek support from LGBT sector organisations if they have received this or similar literature.”
But Freda Kerr, who distributed the leaflets and runs the Mid-Ulster Christian Help Line with her husband, said she had “no intention of stopping” and would go to prison if she had to.
She added: “It’s God’s word, not my word. We do it by way of the literature and we do to help people and people have been helped.”
Aisling Twomey, LGBT Advocacy officer at The Rainbow Project, said incidents like this were “still a reality” for many in the community.
She added: “This includes assault, vandalism, harassment and emotional abuse, not to mention the anti LGBT rhetoric used by political and religious organisations.
“I would encourage anyone who has received literature such as this or has experienced intimidation as a result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to report it to the police.
“If they don’t feel comfortable speaking with the police, then they can speak directly to Advocacy officer based at The Rainbow Project who can report the incident and if necessary can do so anonymously.”