CANADIAN OPINION POLLS ON HOMOSEXUALITY
EQUAL RIGHTS, ADOPTION, TAX BENEFITS, etc.
Most adult Canadians now approve of what has been called
the "Homosexual Agenda." This includes:
Granting rights and protections for gays and lesbians
equal to those enjoyed by other groups, and
Obtaining a popular understanding of homosexual
orientation as a natural sexual variant -- a normal orientation for a
minority of people.
Canadians lead Americans by a wide margin in this area, and are
probably not far behind the Dutch. We suspect that much of the difference
between the U.S. and Canada can be attributed to religious factors:
The ratio of conservative to liberal Christians is much
higher in the U.S. than in Canada
The percentage of Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists and NOTARs
(None Of The Above Religions) is much higher in Canada than in the U.S.
Women, residents of Quebec, professionals, people who have
at least some university education, and middle-income earners appear to be
the most accepting of gays and lesbians. Men; residents of Alberta,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba; people with lesser education, and the poor seem to have the most negative attitudes towards homosexual
behavior and equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Two polls conducted in 2001 show that most Canadians
support a widening of the definition of marriage to include gay and
lesbian couples -- i.e. same-sex marriage. We have been unable to locate
any polling data on the opinions of Canadians for
"Vermont style" civil unions: a parallel system which is not called
marriage but which gives same-sex couples the same rights and obligations
2001-MAY: Environics Research Group surveys:
The Environics poll is of particular interest, because
they have asked the same question of Canadians during three polls over an
interval of four years. The question is: "Do you personally strongly
approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of
homosexuality?" Unfortunately, the question is not well worded. It is
unclear whether the approval or disapproval is in relation to sexual
orientation (what a person is) or sexual behavior (what a person does). We
expect that most subjects would relate the question to behavior.
It would appear that the percentage of Canadians who approve of homosexuality
has more than doubled in only five years. This is an unusually rapid change in social
values. Much of the change seems to be due to persons who had no opinion in 1996
having made up their mind in favor of gays and lesbians.
The 2001 poll was conducted between APR-5 and APR-24, 2001, and involved
2,035 adult Canadians. The margin of error is 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.
Evironics noted a strong relationship between the political party supported
by the subject and their disapproval of homosexuality:
|Political party supported
||% who disapprove of homosexuality
The Canadian Alliance is a small, very conservative party. Many of its
members reject equal rights for gays and lesbians, abortion access, physician
assisted suicide, and similar matters. The NDP is a socialist party. The
Bloc Québécois is a party with almost exclusive support from residents in Quebec.
Also during the 2001 poll, Canadians were asked whether they supported or
opposed allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. The question was worded:
"Currently, gay and lesbian couples have the same treatment under Canadian
federal law as common-law heterosexual couples. Would you strongly support,
somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose allowing gay and lesbian
couples to marry?"
2001-JUN: Canadian Press / Leger Marketing survey:
In 2001-JUN, Canadian Press / Leger Marketing reported on a
survey of 1,507 randomly selected Canadian adults on the topic of homosexuality
and homosexuals. The survey was conducted between JUN-5 and JUN-13, 2001. The
margin of error is within 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. It is
difficult to estimate the effects that this decision would have on the poll.
77.3% felt that homosexuals were just like everyone else;
Support for this belief ranged from a high of 88.9% in
Quebec to a low of 63% in Alberta, and the Prairie provinces of Manitoba and
Saskatchewan. The high acceptance of homosexual orientation in Quebec may be
because of that province's cultural revolution which has largely abandoned Roman
Catholicism. Alberta and the two Prairie provinces comprise perhaps the most
religiously and socially conservative area of Canada.
75.6% of Canadians feel that gays and lesbians should have the
same rights as heterosexuals; 19.5% disagreed.
65.4% believe that marriage should be expanded to include
same-sex couples. More details.
53.1% believe that gays and lesbians should be able to
74.5% believe that homosexuals should get the same tax
18.6% believe that gays and lesbians should have none of
4.6% say that they have been attracted to a persons of the
same sex, sometime during their life. 94.2% say they have not.
Thirty nine individuals (2.6%) say that they have had a sexual
relationship with a member of the same gender. 95.8% say they have not. Nobody
from Alberta admitted having a same-sex sexual relationship. 2
If the incidence of homosexual orientation in the population is
on the order of 5%, as many human sexuality researchers believe, then the
persons sampled were not telling the truth when they answered the last question. That
is to be expected. Many gays and lesbians are firmly in the closet, and would
not give a true answer to this question when asked by a stranger from a polling
Ipsos-Reid polls, 1996 to 2003:
The 2003 poll was taken immediately after the ruling issued by the Ontario Court of
Appeal which legalizing same-sex marriage in the province. Comparing to
previous polls on same-sex marriage, the opinions of Canadians have changed
little over six years:
||% favoring same-sex marriage
The sample size is typically about 1,000 randomly selected Canadian adults.
The margin of error is typically 3.1 percentage points.
In 2003, when asked whether they "support or oppose
same-sex couples being allowed to marry and register their marriage with their
provincial government," the subjects responded:
|31% strongly support SSM|
|24% somewhat support SSM|
|13% somewhat oppose SSM|
|31% strongly oppose SSM|
|1% are undecided -- an unusually low percentage.|
When asked how the Federal Government should respond to the decisions of
three provincial courts on this matter, the subjects responded:
|40% felt that they should "change the Federal law as
required by the Provincial Court decisions to recognize same-sex unions in a
definition of marriage."|
|35% believe they should "invoke the 'Not
Withstanding Clause' of the Canadian Constitution."|
|22% think they should "appeal the Provincial rulings
to the Supreme Court of Canada for a final decision on the issue of same-sex
|3% had no opinion.|
Ipsos-Reid poll, 2003-AUG:
In response to the Vatican's order that all Roman Catholic
politicians must obey church teachings, and the federal government's decision to
obey the courts, Ipsos-Reid conducted a poll of 1,057 randomly selected adults
in Canada. 4 The poll was sponsored by the Globe and Mail newspaper, and the CTV
television network. The margin of error is 3.1%.
Some results of the poll:
|Concerning the issuance of directives to politicians by
religious groups, the pollsters asked: "As you may have heard the Pope
recently issued a document calling on all Catholic legislators to vote against
any legislation that would recognize gay marriage. In general, do you support or
oppose the Catholic Church or other religious groups issuing directives to
politicians on how they should vote on public policy issues? Do you strongly
support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose this?"
|44% strongly oppose church directives to politicians on public policy issues,|
|15% oppose them.|
|16% support them|
|22% strongly support them.|
|3% have no opinion|
|Concerning how politicians should decide how to vote, they
asked: "And thinking specifically about the issue of same-sex marriage, which
of the following do you personally feel a politician should do. Do you believe
that a politician should..."
|54% "Vote according to the wishes of his or her's constituents."|
|39% "Vote according to his or her's own own conscience on the issue."|
|5% "Vote according to how his or her's religious leaders say they should."|
|2% have no opinion.|
|Concerning same-sex relationships, they asked: "Do you
support or oppose same-sex couples being allowed to marry and register their
marriage with their provincial government? Do you strongly support, somewhat
support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose?"
|49% favor permitting same-sex couples to marry.|
|49% oppose same-sex marriage.|
|2% have no opinion.|
|55% of women vs. 44% of men support SSM|
|54% of men vs. 44% of women oppose SSM|
|Support is strongest among young adults, at 63%; middle aged
adults are less supportive at 59%. Older Canadians are even less supportive, at
|Concerning what registered same-sex relationships should be
called, they asked: "I am going to read you three statements, and I would
like you to tell me which statement is closest to your personal point of view?"
|38% selected: "The word marriage should apply to any two people,
regardless of their sexual orientation, who choose to make a life commitment to
|37% selected "The word marriage should apply exclusively to
the union of a man and a woman." We suspect that this group feels that
same-sex relationships should not be recognized at all in law.|
|24% selected: "The word marriage should apply exclusively to
the union of a man and a woman and that there should be some other legal term
for the formal union of same-sex couples." We suspect that this group feels
that same-sex unions should involve all of the same rights and obligations as do
marriages, and would differ only in the name.|
Support for same sex marriage dropped by six percentage points over
previous polls. A similar drop occurred in the U.S.
- "Most Canadians Favour Gay Marriage; Approval of Homosexuality
Continues to Increase," Environics Research Group, 2001-MAY-10, at:
- Canadian Press / Leger Marketing, "Canadian Perceptions of
Homosexuality," 2001-JUN-22. See:
http://www.legermarketing.com/documents/spclm/010716eng.pdf You need
software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:
- "Slim Majority (54%) Support Same-Sex Marriages. Canadians Split
on Next Steps," News release, Ipsos Reid poll, 2003-JUN-13, at:
- "Same-Sex Marriage: The Debate Enjoined," News release, Ipsos
Reid poll, 2003-AUG-8, at:
Copyright © 2002 & 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-SEP-29
Latest update: 2003-AUG-18
Author: B.A. Robinson