A man who shot an LGBT rights activist in the face with a rubber bullet gun has been spared prison after a Russian court handed him a one-year suspended sentence.

Gleb Likhotkin carried out the shooting in St Petersburg on 17 May – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

Likhotkin, a self-described orthodox activist and vice president of an anti-abortion group called “Warriors of Life” is also a homophobic vigilante.

St Petersburg prosecutors said that Likhotkin “took personal offence” at a pro-LGBT slogan written on a balloon being carried by one of the activists.

It read: “Christ loves men and women equally.”

He fired at least one cartridge of eye irritant at the balloon and then two shots at its carrier, who was trying to disarm him.

Likhotkin pleaded not guilty but was convicted of hooliganism.

Earlier this month, two people were injured, including one man who lost his sight in one eye as a result of a homophobic attack on a St Petersburg HIV support group.

Police have said they are investigating the incident, but no arrests have yet been made.