The father of a dead US soldier whose funeral was picketed by the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church has said he will take his case to the US Supreme Court.

Albert Snyder’s son Matthew, a marine, was killed in Iraq and his funeral was held in 2006 in Maryland.

However, the church picketed the funeral with banners saying “God hates fags” and “Thanks God for dead soldiers”.

The controversial church believes that soldiers’ deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are caused by God because he hates America for “enabling” homosexuality.

Mr Snyder originally sued the Kansas-based church, headed by Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, for $5 million for invasion of privacy and emotional distress.

But when a lower court ruled their freedom of speech was protected by the First Amendment, Mr Snyder was told he must pay their legal fees of $16,500 (£11,000).

He has now decided to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court to win the original $5 million reward.

He will argue that the church’s behaviour constitutes harassing people at their most vulnerable and is an incitement to violence.

“This is more than free speech. This is like yelling, ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater. Somebody’s going to get hurt,” Mr Snyder said.

“It’s still very emotional.”