Victimization amongst gays, lesbians and bisexuals1

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Gays, lesbians and bisexuals experience higher levels of violent victimization2

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals reported experiencing higher rates of violent victimization (see Text box 1), including sexual assault, robbery and physical assault, than did their heterosexual counterparts.

The rate for gays and lesbians was almost 2.5 times higher than the rate for heterosexuals (2423 violent incidents per 1,000 population) while the rate for bisexuals was 4 times higher than the rate for heterosexuals (4153 versus 99 violent incidents per 1,000 population).

Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals experience higher levels of spousal violence4

When looking specifically at those who identified themselves as being gay, lesbian or bisexual, it was found that these individuals experienced higher rates of spousal5,6 violence compared to heterosexuals. Fifteen percent3 of gays or lesbians and 28% of bisexuals3,7 reported being victims of spousal abuse in comparison to 7% of heterosexuals. These findings are consistent with previous research (Cameron, 2003).

Factors that increase the risk of victimization are more common among gays, lesbians and bisexuals

Factors such as being young, being single, being a student, earning a low income, living in an urban area, and engaging in 30 or more evening activities per month have all been shown to be related to higher rates of victimization (Gannon and Mihorean, 2005). Results from the 2004 GSS indicate that some factors that increase the risk of violent victimization are more common amongst gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

For example, a higher proportion of gays and lesbians were single, living in an urban area, and engaging in 30 or more evening activities per month than their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, a higher proportion of bisexuals were under the age of 25, single, students, earning low incomes and engaging in 30 or more activities per month than their heterosexual counterparts (Table 1).

Table 1 Characteristics of Canadians who stated their sexual orientation, 2004. Opens a new browser window.

Table 1
Characteristics of Canadians who stated their sexual orientation, 2004

In order to determine whether one's sexual orientation independently increased the odds of victimization, a multivariate analysis using logistic regression was undertaken.

When all factors were held constant, being gay, lesbian or bisexual significantly increased the odds of being a victim of a violent crime. Compared to heterosexuals, the odds of being victimized were nearly 2 times greater for gays and lesbians and 4.5 times greater for bisexuals.8

Notes

  1. Unless otherwise noted, the differences reported in this profile are statistically significant. For additional information, refer to the Methodology section.
  2. The difference between the rate for gays, lesbians and bisexuals is not statistically significant.
  3. Use with caution, coefficient of variation is high (16.6% to 33.3%).
  4. The reader is cautioned that it is not known whether gays, lesbians or bisexuals who were victims of spousal abuse were in a same-sex or a heterosexual relationship at the time of the abuse.
  5. For the first time, the 2001 Census questioned Canadians regarding their common-law partnerships. Results showed that amongst all couples, 0.5% or 34,000 were same-sex common law partnerships (Statistics Canada, 2002).
  6. Based on gay, lesbian or bisexual respondents who had a current or ex-spouse/partner with whom they had contact with in the last 5 years.
  7. The difference between the proportion of gays and lesbians and bisexuals who experienced spousal violence is not statistically significant.
  8. The analysis also revealed that age was a strong predictor of being the victim of a violent crime – those aged 18-to-24 had odds of being the victim of a violent crime that were six times greater than for persons aged 55 and over. The odds of being victimized were two times greater for those who were unmarried compared to their married counterparts. Other factors, like being male, having a low income (under $15,000), participating in 10 or more evening activities per month and one's proximity to crime (measured by perceptions of neighbourhood crime and fear of walking alone after dark) increased the odds of being victimized. These results resemble findings from earlier studies (Brzozowski and Mihorean, 2002; Mihorean et al., 2001).