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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 as marriage.

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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.

Poll results

Date "Approval" "Disapproval" No opinion;
no response
1996 22% 48% 27%
1999 34 34 29
2001 44 37 16

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
Canadian Alliance 58%
Progressive Conservatives 41
Liberal 34
NDP 32
Bloc Québécois 9

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?"

Results were:

Response Percentage
Strongly support 29%
Somewhat support 16%
Somewhat oppose 11%
Strongly oppose 30%

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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.

Some results:


77.3% felt that homosexuals were just like everyone else; 19.2% disagreed.

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 adopt.


74.5% believe that homosexuals should get the same tax breaks


18.6% believe that gays and lesbians should have none of these rights.


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 company.

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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:

Date % favoring same-sex marriage
1996-AUG 49%
1999-JUN 55%
2003-JUN 54%

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:

bullet 31% strongly support SSM
bullet 24% somewhat support SSM
bullet 13% somewhat oppose SSM
bullet 31% strongly oppose SSM
bullet 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:

bullet 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."
bullet 35% believe they should "invoke the 'Not Withstanding Clause' of the Canadian Constitution."
bullet 22% think they should "appeal the Provincial rulings to the Supreme Court of Canada for a final decision on the issue of same-sex marriage."
bullet 3% had no opinion.

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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:

bullet 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?"
bullet 44% strongly oppose church directives to politicians on public policy issues,
bullet 15% oppose them.
bullet 16% support them
bullet 22% strongly support them.
bullet 3% have no opinion
bullet 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..."
bullet 54% "Vote according to the wishes of his or her's constituents."
bullet 39% "Vote according to his or her's own own conscience on the issue."
bullet 5% "Vote according to how his or her's religious leaders say they should."
bullet 2% have no opinion.
bullet 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?"
bullet 49% favor permitting same-sex couples to marry.
bullet 49% oppose same-sex marriage.
bullet 2% have no opinion.
bullet 55% of women vs. 44% of men support SSM
bullet 54% of men vs. 44% of women oppose SSM
bullet Support is strongest among young adults, at 63%; middle aged adults are less supportive at 59%. Older Canadians are even less supportive, at 35%.
bullet 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?"
bullet 38% selected: "The word marriage should apply to any two people, regardless of their sexual orientation, who choose to make a life commitment to each other.
bullet 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.
bullet 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.

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  1. "Most Canadians Favour Gay Marriage; Approval of Homosexuality Continues to Increase," Environics Research Group, 2001-MAY-10, at:
  2. Canadian Press / Leger Marketing, "Canadian Perceptions of Homosexuality," 2001-JUN-22. See: You need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:
  3. "Slim Majority (54%) Support Same-Sex Marriages. Canadians Split on Next Steps," News release, Ipsos Reid poll, 2003-JUN-13, at:
  4. "Same-Sex Marriage: The Debate Enjoined," News release, Ipsos Reid poll, 2003-AUG-8, at:

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality > Polls > here

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Copyright © 2002 & 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-SEP-29
Latest update: 2003-AUG-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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