• Mazzoni Centre, an LGBT+ health clinic, trolls Westboro Baptist Church protest. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Local activists used the power of satire to drown out the hate at a protest targeting an LGBT+ health centre.
By
Ben Winsor

27 Jul 2016 - 4:13 PM  UPDATED 27 Jul 2016 - 4:13 PM

A few weeks ago, LGBTQIA+ residents of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, discovered a local health clinic was going to be the target of homophobic and transphobic Westboro Baptist Church protestors, and decided to do something about it. 

The church's target, the Mazzoni Centre, is a major hub for LGBT+ healthcare, specifically trans-related services. 

Local activists decided to create a "Great Wall of Love" to drown out the protestors. 

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Hundreds gathered outside the health clinic with supportive signs. A band played Beatles tunes and the crowd sang along. 

Many carried placards mocking the distinctive "God Hates Fags" signs sported by the Westboro Baptist Church. 

Organiser Deja Lynn Alvarez, who is also director of the city's only LGBT+ homeless shelter, said that most people gathered on the street didn't even know that the Westboro Baptist protestors had shown up. 

The parody signs and large crowds made them difficult to spot. 

"That was out goal," she told SBS. 

"This is the Philadelphia LGBTQ community," she said proudly, noting the handful of Westboro protestors had been massively outnumbered. 

"They're a joke," she said of the church.

"They weren't even there for 45 minutes," another attendee said, scoffing that it was "not a lot of commitment on their part."

Organisers said their primary purpose for organising the event was to shield patients from the protestors, and didn't want to give them any undue attention. 

"Please do not engage with, argue with, or attack the WBC," a handout said, "let's just ignore them."