A campaign against a same-sex school formal has backfired, causing donations to roll in.

An anti-gay group’s attempt to sabotage a formal for young queer people has spectacularly backfired – after the publicity the group drew to the event helped raise enough funds to cover its entire cost.

The Minus 18 Victorian Same Sex Gender Diverse Formal aims to give teenagers who don’t identify as straight a safe space to express themselves.

Those attending can dress however they want, act however they want and bring whomever they want along.

Despite the organisers’ good intentions, anti-LGBT group ‘Stop Safe Schools Coalition’ quickly took offence – urging its 600 plus Facebook followers to sabotage the Melbourne formal by purchasing all tickets to the event.

The tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable, so “the more tickets sold to us, the more youth we protect”, the page’s administrator explained.

The page was set up last week to lobby against the government-funded Safe Schools Coalition – which promotes safe and inclusive environments in schools for LGBT students and staff.

“Stop this madness before it consumes every area of education and all your child gets at school is indoctrination NOT education,” the page says.

However, publicity of the group’s bid to sabotage the event had the complete opposite effect.

The backlash saw increased donations to Minus18’s crowdfunding page – which as of yesterday afternoon had raised nearly $36,500 for the formal – more than double its aim of $15,000.

The chief executive of Minus18 said the “overwhelming response” meant the event would likely be made entirely free for attendees – “which is the opposite effect to what Stop Safe Schools wanted”.

Any attendee with a ticket would be refunded on the night, with surplus funds going towards the group’s upcoming formal later this year.

“The response has been that the community won’t stand for homophobia and transphobia, and have sent a really strong message to these people – and the Australian Christian Lobby – that LGBTI young people deserve to feel included and safe,” Scott told The Guardian.

“It just goes to show out of touch organisations like the ALC are – they’re fighting a losing battle.”