The victim of an alleged anti-gay attack in Edmonton, Canada, led hundreds of protesters in a march against hate crime.
Around 200 people dressed in purple, representing anti-bullying, joined yesterday's (2 August) demonstration in support of gay University of Alberta student Chevi Rabbit.
The 26-year-old was reportedly assaulted by three men near his campus on 19 July and Rabbit claims after hurling homophobic abuse, one of the trio held him in a headlock, through him to the ground and then stole his iPhone.
'I wanted to start the march here because basically it's like reclaiming this area... for myself, to feel comfortable again,' Rabbit told CBC News.
The large turnout on the march has also changed his mind about leaving the area and moving back with his parents.
He said: 'It's changed because of the response from Edmontonians and I feel very safe here. I feel for the most part, it's very positive, this experience, and I'm not going to move.'
The 'Hate to Hope' march began at the scene of the attack in 110 Street and 84 Avenue then moved through the campus.
It ended at the Alberta Legislator Building where a rally was held with speeches from Rabbit, Alberta deputy premier, Thomas Lukaszul and the director of community relations at University of Alberta, Michael Phair.
During the rally, Phair called on the city to become more tolerant despite admitting Edmonton was ahead of other places in Canada.
He said: 'People need to rethink how they look at people who are queer in Edmonton. Many people have, but it's a long way to go.'
'I was trying not to cry,’ Rabbit said of how he felt after the attack. ‘I couldn’t believe I was attacked verbally and assaulted. They robbed me…I didn’t feel safe at all. I was really in shock at what happened.
‘It’s not right. We should be allowed to be different and society should embrace our differences.
‘People shouldn’t be afraid to be different and afraid to walk to the local grocery store for some snacks and not worry about their safety.’
Edmonton Police are investigating the attack and are looking for a silver 2000 Acura 3.2TL car with a spoiler that fled the scene.