A 70-strong group of Christian protesters were present at Belfast Pride yesterday but were mainly ignored by the 6,000 revellers marching the streets.

The group, led by Rev David McIlveen of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, protested outside St Anne’s Cathedral, while another smaller gathering demonstrated outside City Hall.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Rev McIlveen told his followers: “This is an offensive parade that has no place in any Belfast festival.”

As the parade passed, they turned their backs and bowed their heads.

Belfast Pride, which was allowed to pass unhindered for the second year, is usually targeted by religious protesters. Free Presbyterian protesters infiltrated the march in 2006, handing out extracts from the Bible in protest.

It sparked controversy in 2007 when one marcher carried a placard saying ‘Jesus is a fag’.

Belfast City councillor Christopher Stalford led calls for restrictions on future gay parades, claiming he was offended by the placard.

Belfast Pride has been held every year since 1991 despite calls from the Free Presbyterians and others to ban it.

Parade organiser Scott Mitchell said he hoped religious protesters may one day take part in the march but added: “Unfortunately we’re just going to have to deal with that until they decide not to do that any more.”