Members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church yesterday protested outside the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals in Dallas, Texas, over the NBA’s new policy on hurtful language toward LGBT people.

The policy was put in place earlier this year by NBA commissioner David Stern. It says that using hateful language toward LGBT people is unacceptable.

Since then, professional basketball players Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah have been fined for using gay slurs.

One of the protesters from Westboro, Steve Drain, said: “Now David Stern, the tyrant commissioner of the NBA is jamming a message down the throat of America that not only is it okay to be gay but you don’t even want to use the word gay in a negative connotation.”

The protesters remained in place for an hour. Some held placards emblazoned with Mr Stern’s image. One caption read: “God hates fags. God hates fag enablers. Therefore God hates David Stern and the NBA.”

However, demonstrators found few allies among the fans. One, Richard May, said it made no sense to him: “I think it’s a little strange, a little crazy. I thought there were more constructive things to do.”

Another said: “It’s absolutely sad and ridiculous holding a sign saying god hates fags.”

There was one spectator, however, who rallied the crowd by staging his own impromptu counter-protest, saying: “Gay or straight god will love you, gay or straight, gay or straight. John 3:16 – whosoever believes in him. Not republican, not democrats, not straight people, whosoever believes in him!”