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Sexual Orientation
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How Many Gay and Lesbian People are There?

Whether in discussion or heard in media reports, often cited is that roughly 10% of the population is gay or lesbian. Although widely accepted, the actual population of gay or lesbian people is actually significantly lower.
Alfred Kinsey's research in the late 1940's gave us the 10% figure which has been so widely used in terms of homosexuality. [1] Although widely believed at the time, Kinsey’s research methods have since been seriously questioned, because the people he surveyed did not represent the general population (many had been prisoners and many were also sexual offenders). [2]

Recent studies have found that there are significantly lower numbers of gays and lesbians in Canada, usually ranging between 1-4%. The 2001 Census is the first to provide data on same-sex partnerships. A total of 34,200 couples identified themselves as same-sex common-law couples, accounting for 0.5% of all couples in the country. There were more male same-sex common-law couples than female; about 19,000 male same-sex couples or 55% of the total. The Census also showed that female same-sex couples were five times as likely to have children living with them as their male counterparts. About 15% of the 15,200 female same-sex couples were living with children, compared with only 3% of male same-sex couples. [3]

The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS Cycle 2.1) is the first Statistics Canada survey to include a question on sexual orientation to understand differences in health-related issues between the homosexual (gay or lesbian), bisexual and heterosexual populations. These issues include determinants of health, such as physical activity, mental health issues, including stress, and problems accessing health care. The survey determined that “among Canadians aged 18 to 59, 1.0% reported that they consider themselves to be homosexual and 0.7% considered themselves bisexual. About 1.3% of men considered themselves homosexual, about twice the proportion of 0.7% among women. However, 0.9% of women reported being bisexual, slightly higher than the proportion of 0.6% among men.” [4]

Among individuals aged 18 to 59, 21.8% of homosexuals and bisexuals reported that they had an unmet health care need in 2003, nearly twice the proportion of heterosexuals (12.7%). Homosexuals and bisexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to find life stressful. In addition, 31.4% of homosexuals and bisexuals reported that they were physically active in 2003, compared with 25.4% of heterosexuals. [5]

Despite the numbers and figures listed above, consistent with Christian behaviour is to treat everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of sexual orientation or anything else. At the same time, it is important to use data from current studies rather than from outdated and poorly constructed ones to better respond to the issues that churches are faced with today.


[1] “How Many Gay and Lesbian People are There? The new numbers on sexual orientation” New Direction Ministries of Canada http://www.newdirection.ca/
[2] “How Many Gay and Lesbian People are There? The new numbers on sexual orientation” New Direction Ministries of Canada http://www.newdirection.ca/
[3] The Daily, 2001 Census: Marital status, common-law status, families, dwellings and households Tuesday (October 22, 2002) Statistics Canada
[4] The Daily, Canadian Community Health Survey (Tuesday, June 15, 2004) Statistics Canada
[5] Ibid.


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