A gay Toronto man attacked last month on a Toronto subway wants police to designate the incident a hate crime.
Jon Chaisson was waiting for a subway at the King station late on April 22, when a lone man began taunting him with homophobic slurs.
"He kept saying faggot and I finally turned around," Chaisson told CBC in an exclusive interview. "At that point I knew it was being targeted at me."
Chaisson said he turned around to confront the man and a scuffle ensued. The victim said he was head-butted. It left his face bruised and bloodied, and he chipped a tooth.
"It was just a really traumatic experience," he said. "I was terrified I didn't know what was going to happen."
Chaisson said he fought back in self-defense and eventually activated the emergency alarm on the subway.
Police detained Collin Dillon, 28. He was charged with assault causing bodily harm.
The Toronto Police Hate Crimes unit is also looking into the incident.
But even if an incident is labelled a hate crime, experts said the designation does not always hold up in court.
"The lawyers get involved and try to plea bargain for a lesser sentence. We see this time after time and this sends a terrible message that it's ok to target the gay community," said Helen Kennedy at Egale Canada.
Still Chaisson said he will keep advocating for the rights of the gay community and vows he will be there when Dillon makes his first court appearance on May 16.
"This stuff isn't right," Chaisson said. "It can't happen."