A LGBT business owner "completely freaked out" when he discovered homophobic graffiti painted on the garage door of his Toronto home on Thursday morning.
The spraypainted message reads, "Toronto hates queers cuz your a biggot [sic]," and was reportedly part of a wider wave of hateful comments towards the gay and transgender community marked on garages near the intersection of College and Dufferin streets.
Daniel Malen is the co-founder of Mark It Proud, a company that makes LGBTQ-inclusive cards. He shared a photo of the graffiti to his business' social media pages.
"We can't tell you how unsettling this is," wrote Malen and his husband and business partner Aaron Boros, on Facebook.
"Even though we've always felt blessed to live in an inclusive city such as Toronto — particularly with the way things have gone downhill in the United States under the Trump administration, not to mention the truly tragic news out of Chechnya — this is an awful reminder that Toronto and Canada is far from perfect."
The message was Malen's first experience of "any kind of hate crime, bigotry, or prejudice," he told CBC News.
He said the Toronto police responded to the issue quickly and "very seriously."
"[They] were on the scene within the hour to investigate."
Malen then learned of similar attacks in his area. Many have left comments of support and love under Malen and Boros' social media posts, and it has also been circulated by Canadian actress Lauren Collins. The former "1 Girls 5 Gays" host re-posted the photo with a note of her own, adding, "This happened to people I love, in the city I love."
"A reminder that there is so much work to be done and we must stand together."
This happened to people I love, in the city I love. A reminder that there is so much work to be… https://t.co/eV6gUHZn3p— Lauren Collins (@Lauren_Collins) April 13, 2017
One day prior to Malen's discovery, a Toronto city councillor received homophobic hate mail on the International Day of Pink, an anti-bullying day.
These incidents connect to a larger Canadian trend of hate-based vandalism in major cities.
In Calgary, there have been six police investigations into Islamophobic and anti-Semitic messages since the start of 2017.
Back in February, a note reading "No Jews" and drawings of swastikas were left on the doors of residents in a north Toronto condominium. Toronto mayor John Tory quickly condemned the vandalism, and released a statement which read, "Our Jewish residents should not have to face hatred on their doorsteps."
"The richness of our diversity has contributed immensely to [the city's] greatness, and while we have work to do on inclusion, we are admired the world over," Tory wrote.
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