POLL: 5% Of Canadians Are LGBT, And A Third Of Them Are Married

A comprehensive poll commissioned by Canada’s National Post is providing a unprecedented snapshot of our neighbor to the north’s LGBT community.

Among the findings of the survey, conducted by Forum Research: 74% say they know someone who is LGBT, 28% say that person is in their own family, and a whopping two-third support marriage equality.

The poll also found that a third of the country’s gays and lesbians are in same-sex marriages.

“Social scientists have never been able to pin down how many Canadians are LGBT, but we believe this is the best estimate to date,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff. “This is something people want to know; they’re curious. And now is the time to measure it: people are less reluctant to answer the question, so we can actually ask it.”

The official statistics bureau, Statistics Canada, attempted to determine how many residents were LGBT in 2009, but came up with only 2% of adults 18-59. Sociologists say that rate was likely under-reported because some people were suspicious about how Ottawa would use the information.

Reports the Post:

But the new Forum poll reveals much about Canada’s gay community and how the community interacts with straight Canadians, at times confirming what was widely believed true and other times offering fresh insight on how age, gender, income and region can affect a person’s experience with the gay community.

Younger Canadians are far more likely to say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender than older Canadians, with 10% of those aged 18 to 34 answering the question with a “yes,” compared to 2% or 3% in the four older age categories.

The survey also found that Canadians in rural areas like Manitoba or Saskatchewan are less likely to know someone who is LGBT and—not surprisingly—are less likely to support same-sex marriage.

Of course, you never know how many people are in the closet. To encourage subjects to answer honestly, Forum Research used a computer, the Interactive Voice Response, to take responses. The IVR machine randomly dialed 2,694 people in June, allowing them to answer by pressing 1 for “yes” or 2 for “no.” “We thought people would be more frank with us that way,” said Bozinoff.

Below: the complete findings of the National Post poll




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  • Julie

    Shouldn’t the headline say 10% not 5%?

    As it quotes in the article, The Post says “Younger Canadians are far more likely to say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender than older Canadians, with 10% of those aged 18 to 34 answering the question with a “yes,” compared to 2% or 3% in the four older age categories.”
    (which to me would really be a total of 12 or 13%)

    But the actual graphic says %5 of males AND 5% of females… which is a total of 10% of the population.
    (and we can expect the actual percentage to be a little bit higher, for those people that didn’t self report accurately)

    That said, I think this is great! As a Canadian it was nice information for me!

  • Mike

    You can’t add up all the percentages. If you average the values of all age groups you’ll get 5%.

  • Ruhlmann

    As a Canadian who came out at 14 in 1970 I am not at all surprised and I agree Julie that it is probably higher taking into account closet gays and lesbians and many who might not be comfortable being honest. I have seen this country go from quite hostile to LGBT to being okay in a relatively short time considering the RCMP witch hunts of the 50’s. We have The Right Honourable Pierre Elliot Trudeau to thank for striking down the anti gay laws in 1969, which caught even LGBT by surprise. “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” “What’s done in private between two consenting adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” Pierre Elliot Trudeau

  • Franco

    It’s a good estimate but I wonder why anyone even bothers to ask if Canadians support marriage equality since Canada has recognized same-sex marriages since 2005, and many provinces before then. I guess it doesn’t hurt to know.

  • Baba Booey

    These polls are hard to judge and often titled wrong. 5% are openly gay. What about those who are not? You can’t measure dishonesty.

  • InscrutableTed

    @Julie: “But the actual graphic says %5 of males AND 5% of females… which is a total of 10% of the population.”

    That’s not how percentages work.

    If men and women are each 50% of the population, then those 5% of males comprise 2.5% of the population. Those 5% of females comprise 2.5% of the population. For a total of 5% of the population.

  • MikeE

    Mind you, I live in a rural farming community in north-eastern Quebec, and there are three very OUT gay male couples, and countless lesbian couples in our tiny town (pop. 3,000). Everyone seems to love everyone here.

    When my husband and I got married a few years ago, the local florist actually donated flowers for our wedding. And the wedding was in a church. A church of the 3rd largest denomination in the country.

    Go Canada, eh!

  • Chris

    Percentages for older generations will be lower, not only due to the closet, but also from the heavy toll of AIDS back in the 1980s and 1990s. In my experience, older gay men will tell you that huge numbers of their gay friends died from AIDS back in the day. Being dead, they can’t respond to surveys and the percentage of older gay men will be lower.

  • michael

    After 7 years living In Vancouver, B.C. and moving back to the states (San Francisco) a year ago I have to say that the contrast between Canada and the U.S. regarding attitudes of LGBT’s is startling. (But then just about everything else is as well). It’s definitely a more centered, open minded and intelligent culture over all. Very live and let live. We know dozens of bi-national couples there where one member is from the U.S. and there partner is not. They mostly met in college and when the student visas were up the U.S. said gtf out to the foreign one. Canada has opened it’s arms to these friends of ours enabling them to be together. But the costs have been huge. Being away from family, having to make career adjustments is hard. Canada will always have my heart and when I have to say when it comes to actually loving a country Canada wins.

  • harry

    phoning someone and asking them if they are lgbt will never give you an accurate number. in some homes the subject is never discussed. we have 250,000 new immigrants each year.

  • pedro

    @michael: …so why are you not living in the country you love?

  • Hyhybt

    @Chris: Thank you for that reminder. Remembering a lot of people died is somehow a lot easier than realizing without help the affect their still being dead has on statistics like this, especially for those of us who either weren’t around or weren’t grown yet in the 80s.

    @InscrutableTed: Thank you for explaining the correct way to add percentages. I was going to try, but you did better. Apparently math teachers don’t do that anymore.

  • DouggSeven

    As a married gay Canadian, I am very happy (and lucky) I live in this country. But it still saddens me that many are persecuted/executed/targeted for violence in the world for being just like me…especially in a country just south of me that is supposedly a ‘superior nation’. How can a country say ‘we will fight to the death for our freedom’ while it won’t give equal rights to it’s own citizens? (I am speaking about the US in case a twink is reading this and is confused – have another appletini)

  • michael

    @pedro: Basically professional reasons. My husband is an executive in the bio-tech industry and in Canada it’s just become a floundering business. Here in San Francisco it’s booming and he’s one of those fortunate people who gets 3 recruiters a day trying to entice him plus his compensation is obscene. We are also lucky that his industry is here in the bay area where the mentality is very much akin to Canada and we can make believe we are not in the U.S. There are few other places in the U.S. that we could tolerate after living in Canada. Plus, we have easy access to Canada and can go back whenever we want. Both feet aren’t in the U.S. and probably never will be.

  • DouggSeven

    @pedro: Umm, you can’t just plop down in a country and say ‘this is my home now’. It’s not as easy for either nation’s citizens to move from the US to Canada or vice versa as you might think.

  • DouggSeven

    Btw Queerty, the large pic you attempted to link doesn’t work…at least on my PC.

  • michael

    @DouggSeven: It’s much easier and quicker for an American to move to Canada than for a Canadian to move to the U.S. In fact, compared to trying to immigrate to the U.S. Canadian immigration is a breeze. Of course you need to have a clean police record and a skill or college degree. But the whole Canadian process is designed to eliminate the need for lawyers and the cost and red tape they like to create. Basically if you meet the above criteria, send in an application and the fee you can have landed immigrant status in about 18 months. After another 3 years citizenship. It’s not that difficult.

  • Hyhybt

    @DouggSeven: The problem is in your PC. It’s an informative, but not ideally designed, bar graph giving details broken down by demographic. It’s also not large *enough* for its purpose, or at least, the numbers are still hard to read at this resolution.

  • Julie

    Thanks for the clarification on the percentages.
    (most of you were actually polite with your corrections, I’m a little surprised, because a lot of the time the comments on here can get catty. Not always, but sometimes.)
    It was early when I read this, and I’ve been sick. (I just slept 7 hours of the day away… not that that’s a good excuse, but it is true.)

    I still think it’s 10% though… Since that’s what the quote from the Post says.
    But yes, actually doing the math in the male/female category is 5%.
    I’ve always estimated the true percentage to be about 17%, at least in my head. Between 15-20%. And while “in my head” is clearly not a true study, it just feels like that’s probably pretty close to accurate (give or take a few obviously). But maybe that’s just wishful thinking? haha

  • CosmicDestroyer

    “a third of the country’s gays and lesbians are in same-sex marriages”

    That’s, of course, not counting bisexuals in straight relationships.

  • MikeE

    @CosmicDestroyer: no, it’s counting “gays and lesbians” who are, I presume you understand this, neither gay nor lesbian.

  • MikeE

    @MikeE: ugh.. spur of the moment comment:


    “no, it’s counting gays and lesbians. I am going to presume you understand that bisexuals are neither gay nor lesbian.”

  • Aquarelle

    @CosmicDestroyer: Yes, that’s exactly right: Bisexuals in straight relationships are not included in a count of SAME-SEX marriages.

    I swear to God, you people get dumber every day.

  • michael

    @Aquarelle: And you seem to bet more abusive. Abusive people are just plain trashy!

  • Aquarelle

    @michael: My my, little Miss Manners thinks she’s high-class and not “trashy.” Well, sweety, when your man is fucking that orifice you like to pretend is a c unt and you’re moaning like a cheap little slut, you’re just as big a piece of trash as any other c0ck-loving fag on God’s green earth. So get off your high horse, cuz you’re not one iota better than me. B!tch.

  • michael

    @Aquarelle: It must be sad to be such a bad person.

  • Aquarelle

    @michael: Honey, nobody’s buying the goody two-shoes act. You like sucking c0ck just like any other fag, so quit acting like you’re some fine young lady home from finishing school.

  • F Young

    @Chris: From the article: “Younger Canadians are far more likely to say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender than older Canadians, with 10% of those aged 18 to 34 answering the question with a “yes,” compared to 2% or 3% in the four older age categories.”

    I find the discrepancies in the incidence of homosexuality between the various age slices to be suspect. I doubt that the number of homosexuals has been increasing. I think the incidence is constant from age to age and generation to generation.

    As you say, some of the difference could be due to AIDS mortality among older gay men, but I suspect it has more to do with identification and the closet. Older people are more likely to be married to a person of the opposite sex and so identify as heterosexual even though they are attracted to people of the same sex. Plus, many are deeply closeted and too fearful to reply honestly.

    So, I think that the best estinmate of the incience within the entire population is whatever is the highest percentage in any age slice, i.e. I think this poll supports the view that 10% of Canadians are LGBT.

  • Hyhybt

    @F Young: The “whichever is highest” approach doesn’t work well either, though: just as there are reasons older groups might show lower numbers, there may be other factors in the high one as well.

    For example, my understanding is that a lot of people experiment with identity in college. There may be other factors as well that neither of us has thought of.

  • EJC

    I have cousin who has been happily/unhappily married to a very lovely woman for 35 years, He is gay and as he travels on business about every three weeks he has a following of gay “friend” all across Canada. Total two lives, and very sad. Out of the union is a gay son, that was almost disown, guess by whom.his father. In this day and age isn’t time for all of us to come forward and get an honest life, it just unfortunate it is just too late for some individuals. AND that is very sad/ Asa very happily gay an it is not my place to give opinion to my cousin who as always stated clearly to me that I don’t have a truly happen life, guess what he couldn’t be more wrong.

  • meghanada

    @MikeE: That there appear to be several lesbian couples to only 3 male ones sort of puts your narrative in question.

Comments are closed.