US: Gay rights activists paint house opposite Westboro compound rainbow colours

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Gay rights activists have painted a small house opposite the compound owned by the adamantly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church in rainbow colours, in a political statement against the controversial church.

The activists were from Planting Peace, which owns the small house on 1200 SW Orleans Street, in Topeka, Kansas, and painted it rainbow colours to signify gay pride and diversity.

The founder of Planting Peace, Aaron Jackson, 31, bought the property around six months ago for $80,000 (£53,000), and said he plans to turn it into Equality House, a drop in centre supporting LGBT and anti-bullying initiatives.

He said: “It hit me right away … Huh. That would be interesting to own a house across from the Westboro Baptist Church and turn it into something.’ And then, within five seconds: ‘And I’ll paint it the color of the pride flag.’ Perfect,” he said.

“I feel the Westboro Baptist Church is the poster child… that’s pushing inequality,” he said in an interview with the Advocate “So I thought the best place to start was to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s message.”

Mr Jackson had been living in Equality House for a month an a half, and said he had plans to turn it into the drop in centre, and hoped to raise $1 million (£660,000) to support it.

The Planting Peace website reads: “For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the LGBTQ community with messages of hate and radicalism. Often, protesting American soldiers’ funerals and organizations that support equality.

“This faction preaches extremism in our communities and directly targets our youth. To combat their messages of hate and to support equality and anti-bullying initiatives in schools and in our community, Planting Peace has established the Equality House in Topeka.”

On Wednesday, the group had raised over $18,000 (£12,000).

Not the first time the church, also known as the “God Hates Fags” church, has attracted the attention of activist groups. In December, the hackers collective, Anonymous, continued its battle with the church, and claimed to have changed the desktop background on its spokeswoman’s computer to gay porn, and filed a death certificate on her behalf, stopping her from using her social security number. 

Last week, A former member of the church spoke out about the church’s controversial leader, Fred Phelps, and said that she thought he could be gay.

In February, two granddaughters of Phelps quit the organisation, and expressed regret at “inflicting pain on others” whilst still members. 

Back in 2010, the son of Fred Phelps has broke his silence and begun to publicly speak about his relationship with his estranged father, after also quitting the church.

The church infamously attempts to picket the funerals of those deemed “fag-enablers”, including military funerals for US service members.

In a strange turn of events in December, the Ku Klux Klan stepped in to counter a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church, at a military funeral.  

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