A man who threatened to "put a bullet in the head" of the gay rights campaigner Ben Summerskill and a gay couple illegally barred from a hotel has been given a suspended prison sentence.
At Liverpool crown court on Monday, Anthony Ryan pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill. He was given eight months' imprisonment suspended for 18 months.
In January, Ryan, 42, sent an email to the Stonewall group, where Summerskill is chief executive, after Summerskill welcomed a ruling at Bristol county court that a gay couple, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, had been discriminated against when they were not allowed to share a double room at a hotel run by devout Christians in Marazion, near Penzance, Cornwall.
Summerskill had written in an article for the Guardian's Comment is Free website that "the really important message … is simply that the appropriate 'balance of rights' for modern Britain is one that keeps private prejudice out of the public space".
The following day, Ryan sent Stonewall an email that read: "With regard to the recent so-called victory that evil sexual weirdos Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall had against decent law-abiding B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull. It is my duty to inform your evil organisation that, despite what the government says, according to the holy Christian Bible, homosexuality is in fact illegal.
"I have therefore decided to embark upon a campaign of terror against you Chief Executive Dame Ben Summerskill and all those that seek to support the so-called human rights of the Homosexual community.
"It is going to give me great pleasure to put a bullet in the head of Dame Ben Summerskill, Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall and any other homosexual vermin that I have the misfortune to come across.
"I suggest that the people mentioned in this email and indeed all evil bigoted homosexual scum start making their funeral arrangements."
Stonewall reported the incident to police, who later arrested Ryan.
Summerskill told the Guardian: "I am obviously very relieved this guy has been apprehended. It is sad that Christians with extreme views feel sufficiently emboldened in 2011 to arrange this sort of campaign against anyone. There is no reason the rights of religious extremists should trump the rights of gay people to walk the streets of Britain free from fear of attack."
Ryan was given a community order and will be supervised by the probation service for 12 months.