To stand against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia is to celebrate the diverse identities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, And Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2+) people and to recognize the ongoing importance of fostering safe and inclusive communities for every person in Canada without discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
As we are in Pride Season (June to September), many of us are gathering to celebrate and honour LGBTQ2+ people, at home and abroad, to reaffirm the fundamental right to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. The welcoming of Pride Season is also an opportunity to acknowledge that in Canada and around the world, LGBTQ2+ individuals are still more likely to be victims of gender-based violence than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
Canada is home to approximately 1 million people who are LGBTQ2+, accounting for 4% of the total population aged 15 and older. Whenever possible, Statistics Canada disaggregates data by sexual orientation and by gender identity, recognizing that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or of a sexual orientation other than heterosexual (LGB+) are likely to have different experiences in all spheres of Canadian society than people who are transgender or non-binary.
In 2018, the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS)—a large-scale, nationally representative household survey—was conducted by Statistics Canada with the goal of advancing knowledge of gender-based violence in Canada. Results show that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or of a sexual orientation other than heterosexual (LGB+) in Canada are more likely than heterosexual people to be physically and sexually assaulted or to sustain injuries as a result of aggression.
Excluding violence committed by an intimate partner, 59% LGB+ people in Canada had been physically or sexually assaulted at least once since age 15, a much larger proportion than the 37% heterosexual people who reported the same. In addition, LGB+ people with a disability living in Canada were more likely to report that they had been physically assaulted (55%) and sexually assaulted (46%) since age 15 than their counterparts who did not have a disability (36% and 29%, respectively).
An estimated 70,000 LGB+ people in Canada—or 6% of all LGB+ people in Canada aged 15 and older—said that they had been physically assaulted at least once in the 12 months prior to the SSPPS. Of these reports, 19% of physical assaults came to the attention of the police. Meanwhile, almost one-third (30%) of heterosexual individuals who were physically assaulted said that the incident was brought to the attention of the police.
Data from the SSPPS show that a large proportion of LGB+ people in Canada experience gender-based violence in their day-to-day lives, through unwanted sexual behaviours in public spaces and at work, online harassment, as well as more overtly violent behaviours such as physical and sexual assault. These behaviours can have profound effects on mental health and well-being. When asked to self-rate their mental health, approximately one-third (32%) of all LGB+ people in Canada aged 15 and older stated that their mental health was poor or fair. More specifically, over 4 in 10 (41%) bisexual people and one in five (20%) gay or lesbian people in Canada reported poor or fair mental health. Comparatively, poor or fair mental health was reported by over 1 in 10 (11%) heterosexual people.
Results from the 2018 SSPPS shows that transgender and non-binary people in Canada are more likely than cisgender people to have been sexually or physically assaulted at least once since the age of 15 (59% vs. 37%, respectively). Data also show that those who are transgender or non-binary in Canada were more likely to experience unwanted sexual behaviours in public and at work, as well as experience online harassment. For instance, 58% of transgender and non-binary people in Canada reported having experienced at least one form of unwanted sexual behaviours in public in the year preceding the survey compared with 23% of cisgender people. Unwanted sexual behaviours at work (69% vs. 23%) and online harassment (42% vs. 16%) were also more common among transgender and non-binary people than among cisgender people in Canada.
Along with a higher prevalence of experiences of gender-based violence, transgender and non-binary people in Canada were more likely to report negative self-rated mental health than cisgender people. More than 6 in 10 (65%) transgender and non-binary people in Canada self-rated their mental health as fair or poor compared with about 1 in 10 cisgender people (11%). Similarly, transgender and non-binary people in Canada were more likely than cisgender people to report having been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder (61% vs. 17%) or to have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetimes (45% vs. 16%). Transgender and non-binary people in Canada were also more likely than cisgender people to report having used drugs or alcohol to cope with the violence that they experienced in their lifetimes (36% vs. 11%).
A portrait of the transgender and non-binary populations was presented with the release of 2021 Census data on sex at birth and gender, on April 27, 2022. Canada is the first country to collect and publish data on gender diversity from a national census.
Additional analysis of various sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the transgender and non-binary populations will be forthcoming once all 2021 census data are released. In addition, an article on the growing diversity of couples in Canada will be published in the families, households and marital status census release on July 13, 2022.
For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service(toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Media Relations (email@example.com).