A small protest by the vehemently homophobic Westboro Baptist Church was scuppered yesterday after it triggered a huge pro-LGBT counter-demonstration.

Approximately five members of the church, which is renowned for picketing the funerals of military servicemen and those it perceives to support the LGBT community, held a demonstration in Bozeman, Montana, outside Montana State University and the local high school yesterday.

The picket was pre-announced and had been anticipated for, and was met by a huge counter-protest made up of students from both the school and university, as well as members of the local community.

The counter-demonstration reportedly surrounded the church members, shielding their homophobic placards and slogans from public view.

Protestors reportedly sang chants such as: “Get your hate, out of our state!” and “we can’t hear you!”

As well as the counter-protest, a pro-LGBT rally was held just a few hundred yards away throughout the afternoon, attracting about 500 people who turned out to listen to speakers from local churches and the LGBT community.

Speaking to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, organiser Jamee Greer, of the Montana Human Rights Network, said: “I think groups like the Westboro Baptist Church coming to town give us an opportunity to talk about where discrimination exists and how we can work together to end it.”

The Westboro Baptist Church’s local city council will this week hear proposals for a new gay rights initiative in the city.

Last month, musician Ed Sheeran denounced the group, telling them to “keep your homophobic views to yourself” after members turned up to a concert bearing placards.