Angels block homophobic protests outside funeral of Orlando shooting victim

Counter demonstrators dressed as angels block the view of protesters near a funeral service for one of the victims of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting Source: AAP

Love wins: community members dress in giant angel wings to screen out hate from members of the Westboro Baptist Church protesting at a funeral for a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Members of the homophobic Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church were blocked by a line of people dressed as angels outside a funeral for a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

The angels were joined by hundreds of community members, who came together to form a human chain surrounding the funeral. 

Members of the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre crafted giant angel wings to screen mourners and peacefully protest the homophobic abuse from members of WBC.

Members of the WBC held signs saying 'God hates fags' and 'God is not mocked' as they formed a small group near the funeral service. 

The messages of the WBC were drowned out by hundreds of community members singing Amazing Grace.

Some community members also brought a large rainbow screen to act as a shield against the protesters and held signs saying 'Orlando Strong' and 'love wins'. 

WBC members eventually left the funeral amid cheers from the counter protesters. 

The angel wings represent a powerful initiative of the Angel Action Network, which formed in 1999 after a homophobic church group picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man from Wyoming who died after injuries sustained from a homophobic attack. The aim of the angels is to rise above hate and promote 'Love, respect and compassion for everyone.'

Helping to sew the angel wings, volunteer Jeannie Haskett told the Miami Herald she had been waiting for an opportunity to help. 

"I don't have any money to give, but I can spread love and I can spread hope," she said. 

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