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Study: Sexual orientation and victimization

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The Daily

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals reported experiencing higher rates of victimization for violent crimes in 2004, including sexual assault, robbery and physical assault, than heterosexuals, according to a new study.

The study examined victimization rates, perceptions of discrimination, fear of crime and attitudes towards the justice system among gays, lesbians and bisexuals. It was based on data from the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS), which for the first time asked respondents to identify their sexual orientation.

Previous studies based on GSS data showed that a number of factors were related to higher rates of victimization. For example, those who were young, single or students, those who earned low incomes or lived in an urban area or those who engaged in 30 or more evening activities a month tended to have a higher risk of being victims of violent crime.

This study indicated that some of these factors are more common among gays, lesbians and bisexuals. For example, a higher proportion of gays and lesbians were single, were living in an urban area, and were engaging in 30 or more evening activities each month than heterosexuals.

Furthermore, higher proportions of bisexuals were under the age of 25, and were single, students, earning low incomes and engaging in 30 or more activities per month.

However, even after all of these factors were taken into consideration, sexual orientation was still a factor in the likelihood of violent victimization. Compared with heterosexuals, the odds of being victimized were nearly 2 times greater for gays and lesbians and 4.5 times greater for bisexuals.

Despite experiencing higher rates of violence, gays, lesbians and bisexuals did not express higher levels of fear than their heterosexual counterparts.

Overall, more than 9 out of 10 gay, lesbian and bisexual Canadians indicated that they were "somewhat" or "very" satisfied with their personal safety, a proportion which was similar to heterosexuals.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4504.

The profile, "Sexual orientation and victimization," is now available as part of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series, 2004 (85F0033MWE2008016, free). From the Publications module of our website, choose Free internet publications then Crime and justice.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (toll-free 1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.