‘Not surprising’: New poll finds ‘declining support’ for Canada’s LGBT+ community

'Not surprising': New poll finds 'declining support' for Canada's LGBT+ community
Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
A Pride flag flies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 8, 2023, during a Pride event.

With Pride month underway, events are happening across Vancouver Island, but a newly released poll suggests support for such celebrations may be on the decline.

Ipsos, which lauds itself as a global leader in market research, polled about 1,000 Canadians aged 18 to 74 between late February and early March, and found that 49 per cent support LGBT+ people being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

That’s a 12 per cent decrease from the same poll in 2021, placing Canada in the bottom 10 of the 23 countries polled in that category, according to Ipsos in its report.

“Disappointing, but not surprising,” said Ace Mann, president of the Victoria Pride Society.

“The lack of support for rights, I think that is a broad question; and I think if you get down to the specifics of where people disagree, then it can be possible to have a respectful conversation,” added Teresa Stebbing, Cowichan Pride Society president.

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Just 40 per cent of those polled are supportive of LGBT+ people displaying public affection, like holding hands, while 50 per cent say they’re OK with openly lesbian, gay and bisexual athletes in sports teams — a decline of eight and 11 per cent, respectively, says Ipsos.

Of the random Canadians polled, 11 per cent identified as Queer.

‘Decreased feeling of safety’: Stebbing

The poll likely comes amid a spike in people feeling unsafe following protests against transgender people and drag performers, as well as SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) inclusive education in schools.

“It’s not surprising that our community is feeling unsafe. We definitely have noticed a rise in incidents and a decreased feeling of safety among 2SLGBT+ people,” said Stebbing.

North Cowichan is one of the latest municipalities on Vancouver Island where vandals targeted Pride symbols. Last month, the Pride flag flying outside the Cowichan Aquatic Centre was vandalized with a swastika, according to Stebbing.


At the time, the municipality said RCMP was investigating, as North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas condemned those responsible, calling their actions “cowardly.”

Stebbing’s not entirely sure what prompts people to do this.

“I think that they probably have some internal things. Life is not going their way and they have a buildup of hate, and they’re taking it out on a target. Unfortunately, 2SLGBT+ has frequently been a target of not only verbal violence but physical violence,” she said.

But acts like this are nothing new. Pride crosswalks, for example, have been targeted by vandals on various occasions, including earlier this year outside a school in Langford.

“It’s something that has been ongoing for a while. And for the 2SLGBT+ community, it’s been going on for years and years, which is why we have to have these types of Pride events,” said Stebbing in an interview with CHEK News Sunday.

Watch the TV report below:

Fewer Canadians are speaking out against prejudice than in 2021, notes Ipsos in its findings. While the majority of pollers are all for protecting transgender people from discrimination, support for specific measures “is divided,” it says.

It also says older Canadians are more likely to support protecting LGBT+ people from discrimination, but not specific measures.

“…when asked about specific actions, younger Canadians are more likely to be in support, including allowing transgender people to use single-sex facilities that correspond to their gender, and health insurance systems covering the cost of gender transition no differently than the costs of other medical procedures,” added Ipsos.

Stebbing stays positive.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we have a lot of support,” she said. 

“During (last year’s Pride) event, we heard from a lot of people about how important it was for them to have that kind of event.

“There were some people who had moved away from the Valley because of feeling unsafe, and they came back for the event, and it was really touching to hear how much it meant to them not only to have the event but to see their community come out in support and celebration.”

READ ALSO: ‘Really important’: Locals voice concerns about ‘lack’ of LGBTQ+ safe spaces

Ipsos adds that there was “strong support” for same-sex union, adoption, and legal protection.

Seventy-five per cent of pollers said same-sex couples should be allowed to obtain some kind of legal recognition but not to marry, up four points from 2021.

Meanwhile, 70 per cent said same-sex couples should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples do, an increase of seven points — and 77 per cent said LGBT+ people should be protected from discrimination in employment, housing and access to businesses, like restaurants, up three points. 

“Support for all of these is higher in Canada than the average of 26 countries globally,” said Ipsos.

What’s On Queer BC has more details about upcoming Pride events on its website.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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