The American street preacher who was fined £1,000 for breaching the peace in Glasgow should not have been fined, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has argued.

Shawn Holes, 47, from New York state, was arrested in Glasgow city centre on March 18th after telling shoppers that gays were going to hell.

He was fined £1,000 by a judge. Holes said he only expected to be fined £100 and accepted the fine because he wanted to get home quickly.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said today that had he known about the case, he would have gone to court to defend Holes’ right to freedom of expression.

Mr Tatchell described the £1,000 fine as “totally disproportionate” and added: “Even though I strongly disagree with his views on homosexuality, if he had decided to appeal against either the conviction or the sentence, I would have supported him.”

“Shawn Holes is obviously homophobic and should not be insulting people with his anti-gay tirades. He should be challenged and people should protest against his intolerance,” he added.

“I urge the police and prosecuting authorities to concentrate on tackling serious homophobic hate crimes, instead of wasting public money on petty, distasteful homophobic ranters.”

Mr Tatchell continued: “The price of freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.

“Just as people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should have the right to criticise homosexuality. Only incitements to violence should be illegal.”