Religious protestors attempted to disrupt today’s Pride Sheffield event.
A small group, reportedly Christians, bearing placards and shouting anti-LGBT slogans appeared at Endcliffe Park earlier today (July 30).
They were quickly surrounded by some of those in attendance, who started pro-LGBT chants, and were eventually escorted away from the park.
Transgender Nathan Fortune, aged 22, from Sheffield, walked into the middle of the group holding up a sign saying ‘God adores you’ (pictured above).
He said: “The protesters came into the park, attempting to tell the community that they needed Jesus in their lives, telling us that God does not stand with LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer) people.
“They went about it in the entirely wrong way in my opinion, presenting as if they were wanting to battle.
“I’m transgender and my relationship with my God is the most important thing for me.
“My friends and I who were representing Christians At Pride and several church communities in Sheffield, wanted the LGBTQ+ community to know that it wasn’t God versus them, that God loves unconditionally no matter who you are or who you love.
“I wanted that message to be front and centre, standing against the hateful message the protesters were yelling through a megaphone. A lot of the community thanked me for my fortitude.”
The identity or denomination of the protesters is not yet known. South Yorkshire Police were at the event but said no incidents were reported.
Pride Sheffield co-organiser Heather Paterson said the protest had not spoiled what was otherwise a positive atmosphere.
“Actually it was a bit more of a celebration thing,” she said. “People thought ‘we will drive you out with positivity’.
“All the comments have been overwhelmingly positive.”
James Marriott, 35, from Sharrow Vale, filmed the incident. He said: “I wasn’t near when it first kicked off but from what I could see a group of protestors turned up, a couple with megaphones and placards, chanting anti-gay stuff.
“Pride attendees surrounded them and formed a makeshift anti-protest. This continued for a while until most of the protestors disappeared leaving one main guy with a megaphone and a couple of others.
“The police protected them due to freedom of speech and right to protest, but the gay protesters grew in size and outnumbered them.
“Eventually the gay protestors formed a human chain and marched the religious protestors out of the park.”
James said the rest of the event had been ‘completely trouble free and really enjoyable - everyone has had a good time’.
He added: “I don’t think the protest affected the atmosphere at all - it remained positive throughout.
“Most people in the park didn’t even realise it was happening.”
Sheffield city councillor Paul Scriven was also at the event. He said: “The party is going on. They are on the fringe. Thousands are enjoying themselves as 15 people tell us we are going to hell.”