As activists around the world mark international day against homophobia – a gay refugee to Canada says there’s still a long way to go.
Zdravko Cimbaljevic organized Montenegro’s first pride parade in 2013.
He says despite government protection – it got so violent they had to be evacuated by the coast guard.
“Hundred and hundreds of people who just came to throw everything at us – from chairs, bricks, bottles. Anything they could find in their hands they were throwing it.”
Just two months later, fearing for his safety after constant harassment, he came to Canada as a refugee.
Cimbaljevic says his high profile made getting asylum easier – but that it’s much harder for others.
“There’s other who are not as fortunate who are not out in their own life – and they come to seek refuge here and they don’t know how to prove they are gay or lesbian or bi or trans.”
He says while things look okay on the surface – in reality people are forced to live underground.
“Even though Montenegro is putting their laws in the sense that everything is everything is according to European Union standards, on the ground you cannot be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.”
He says it’s important for Canadians to remember how far we have come with LGBTQ rights – and how dangerous it still is in many other places.