Statistics Canada
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Gay Pride... by the numbers

Pride Flag
Image: The rainbow flag is a symbol for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

2010 (updated)

Each summer, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride festivities are celebrated across Canada.

Here are some selected numbers on assorted topics related to same-sex couples and sexual orientation.

(Last updated: July 8, 2011.)


How many “LGBT” persons are there in Canada?

Statistics Canada has neither the definitive number of people whose sexual orientation is lesbian, gay, bisexual, nor the number of people who are transgender, but the agency does attempt to quantify some estimates in various surveys and in the census.


Same-sex couples across Canada

The 2006 Census counted same-sex couples, both married and common-law.

Half of all same-sex couples in Canada lived in the three largest census metropolitan areas (CMA):

  • 21.2% — The proportion of all same-sex couples who resided in Toronto in 2006.
  • 18.4% — The proportion of all same-sex couples who resided in Montréal in 2006.
  • 10.3% — The proportion of all same-sex couples who resided in Vancouver in 2006.

Source: “2006 Census: Families, marital status, households and dwelling characteristics,” The Daily, Wednesday, September 12, 2007.

Do you want to know how many same-sex couples (both married and common-law) are in your province, territory or CMA? Consult this 2006 Census Highlight table on Families and households:
Persons in same-sex unions by broad age groups and sex for both sexes, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations - 20% sample data.


Same-sex spouses

  • 45,300 — The number of same-sex couples in 2006. Of these, about 7,500 (16.5%) were married couples and 37,900 (83.5%) were common-law couples.
  • 53.7% — The proportion of same-sex married spouses who were men.
  • 46.3% — The proportion of same-sex married spouses who were women.

Source: 2006 Census, Family Portrait: Continuity and Change in Canadian Families and Households in 2006.

See also: 2006 Census information on same-sex common-law and married couples.


Sexual orientation (updated)

The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Cycle 2.1, was the first Statistics Canada survey to include a question on sexual orientation.

  • 1.1% — The percentage of Canadians aged 18 to 59 who reported in 2009 that they consider themselves to be homosexual (gay or lesbian).
  • 0.9% — The percentage of Canadians aged 18 to 59 who reported in 2009 that they consider themselves to be bisexual.

Several concepts can be used to measure sexual orientation. These include behaviour, that is, whether a person's partner or partners are of the same or the opposite sex, and identity, that is, whether a person considers himself or herself to be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.

The CCHS uses the concept of identity. Data from other countries suggest that the number of people who consider themselves to be homosexual is much smaller than the number who report having had sexual relations with someone of the same sex. However, people are more willing to answer questions about identity than about behaviour.

Sources: Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009; “Canadian Community Health Survey,” The Daily, Tuesday June 15, 2004.

  • 1% — The proportion of Canadians aged 18 years and over who identified themselves as homosexual (gay or lesbian) in the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization.
  • 1% — The proportion of Canadians aged 18 years and over who identified themselves as bisexual in the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization.

Source: General Social Survey on Victimization.


Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation (updated)

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey collects information on hate-motivated crimes that have been reported to police and substantiated through investigation.

  • 13% — The proportion of all hate crimes that were motivated by sexual orientation in 2009.
  • 188 — The number of hate crimes in 2009 that were motivated by sexual orientation, up 18% from 2008.
  • 74% — The proportion of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation in 2009 that were violent in nature. Minor assaults were the most frequent type of violent hate crime.

This percentage was higher than the proportion of violent incidents motivated by race/ethnicity (39%) or religion (21%).

Sources: “Police-reported hate crimes, 2009,” The Daily, Tuesday, June 7, 2011; “Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2009,” Juristat.


Health

  • More likely — The probability that gay men, when compared with heterosexual men, would have consulted a medical specialist or mental health service provider.
  • More likely — The probability that lesbians, when compared with heterosexual women, would consult a mental health service provider.

Source: Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009.

See also: “Study: Health care use among gay, lesbian and bisexual Canadians,” The Daily, Wednesday, March 19, 2008.


Physically active

  • 28.6% — The proportion of homosexuals and bisexuals who reported that they were physically active in 2009, compared with 27.2% of heterosexuals.
  • 28.5% — The proportion of homosexuals and bisexuals who reported that they found life stressful in 2009, compared with 26.7% of heterosexuals.

Source: Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009.

See also: “Canadian Community Health Survey,” The Daily, Tuesday, June 15, 2004.


Same-sex parents

Same-sex couples represented less than 1% of all couples (married and common-law) in Canada.

  • 9% — The percentage of married same-sex male couples who had children in the home in 2006. Less than 2% of men in same-sex common-law unions had children in the home.
  • 24.5% — The percentage of married same-sex female couples who had children in the home in 2006. Less than 15% of women in same-sex common-law unions had children in the home.

Source: 2006 Census, Family portrait: Continuity and change in Canadian families and households in 2006: National portrait: Census families.

  • 3% — The percentage of all male same-sex couples who had children aged 24 and under living in the home in 2006. 
  • 16% — The percentage of all female same-sex couples who had children aged 24 and under living in the home in 2006. 

Source: “2006 Census: Families, marital status, households and dwelling characteristics,” The Daily, Wednesday, September 12, 2007.


Questions evolve (updated)

Times change… and so do the questions asked by Canada’s national statistical agency.

Watch for data releases in 2012 from the 2011 Census. See 2011 Census topics and release dates for more information.

Statistics Canada goes to great lengths in assuring that its questions—including those questions related to sexual orientation—are relevant and feasible.

In testing questions targeted to specialized populations, Statistics Canada found that the positive rapport between the agency and with various groups and individuals, coupled with assurances of anonymity, contribute to respondents feeling very comfortable with the interviewing arrangements.

This trust has led to a situation where respondents are willing to reveal personal details about their lives, and to answer questions honestly.

The consultations on questions with specialized populations also provided many useful insights into the issues being investigated.

Sources: Census; Experiences in testing questionnaires with specialized populations.


For more information about this page or for help finding more data, contact Media Relations.

See previous features on this and many other subjects in By the numbers – archives.