By Diane Beauchamp, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
In the early 1980’s, Canada adopted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As of 1985, all Canadians, regardless of their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability were legally given equal rights to the protection and benefit of the law without discrimination under Section 15 of the Charter. Although sexual orientation is not listed as a ground for discrimination in the Charter, it has been deemed by the Supreme Court of Canada (Egan v. Canada,  2 S.C.R. 513) to be an analogous ground on which claims of discrimination may be based (Hurley, 2007).
On September 18, 2003 the Parliament of Canada voted to amend the Criminal Code to include sexual orientation as an identifiable characteristic for protection from hate crime under the Hate Propaganda Sections 318 and 319. The amendment added gays and lesbians to a list of other groups protected by hate crime legislation.
Until recently, there were no national data on the extent to which gays, lesbians and bisexuals were victims of violent crime and discrimination, nor was there any national information about their fear of crime or their perceptions of the criminal justice system.
In 2004, for the first time, the General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization asked Canadians to identify their sexual orientation (see Text box 1). This profile examines victimization rates, perceptions of discrimination, fear of crime and attitudes towards the justice system among gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
Text box 1
Sexual orientation: Sexual orientation refers to how a person perceives and defines their sexuality, which is whether he or she considers himself or herself to be heterosexual, homosexual (gay or lesbian) or bisexual. In the 2004 GSS, information on sexual orientation was collected from respondents aged 18 years and over.
Violent victimization: The 2004 GSS collected information on three types of violent offences, according to their definition in the Criminal Code. These include sexual assault, robbery and physical assault.
Sexual assault: Forced sexual activity, an attempt at forced sexual activity, or unwanted sexual touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling.
Robbery: Theft or attempted theft in which the perpetrator had a weapon or there was violence, or the threat of violence against the victim.
Physical assault: An attack (victim hit, slapped, grabbed, knocked down or beaten), a face-to-face threat of physical harm, or an incident with a weapon present.
This profile presents overall violent victimization rates, since rates by individual violent offence types were too small to make statistically reliable estimates.
You need to use the free Adobe Reader to view PDF documents. To view (open) these files, simply click on the link. To download (save) them, right-click on the link. Note that if you are using Internet Explorer or AOL, PDF documents sometimes do not open properly. See Troubleshooting PDFs. PDF documents may not be accessible by some devices. For more information, visit the Adobe website or contact us for assistance.