A Canadian poll has suggested that 5 percent of the 34-million people living in Canada identify as LGBT, and that a third of those are in a gay marriage.
The Forum Research poll was commissioned by the National Post and conducted last month.
Its 5-percent figure contrasts with the 2 percent found by the government’s official body, Statistics Canada, in 2009. The National Post noted that respondents could have been wary of divulging information to the government survey.
Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said: “Social scientists have never been able to pin down how many Canadians are LGBT, but we believe this is the best estimate to date.
“This is something people want to know; they’re curious. And now is the time to measure it: People are less reluctant to answer the question, so we can actually ask it.”
Ten percent of Canadians aged 18-34 identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender compared with only 2 percent of those over 65.
The new survey finds widespread support for marriage equality between gay and straight couples, which became legal in Canada in 2005.
The National Post pointed out that lower-income Canadians were less likely to know an LGBT person or a person in a same-sex marriage. They were the least likely group to support same-sex marriage, but the most likely to be LGBT themselves.
Support for marriage equality was lowest in the mid-Canadian provinces and highest in the younger demographics.
Sixty-eight percent of 18-34-year-olds supported marriage equality while 75 percent of 35-44-year-olds were in favor.
Two percent of 18-34-year-olds said they were in a gay union while only .6 percent of 34-44-year-olds were.
Politically, Conservatives were the least likely to support the law (46 percent), while Greens were the most likely (85 percent).
Women were more likely to say they were in a gay marriage, to say they had a family member in a gay marriage and to support the law on gay marriages than men.
Same-sex marriages were most popular among the youngest and oldest age groups.
Of 18-34 year olds, 2.9 percent were in a same-sex marriage; 2.4 percent of those 65 or older were in a same-sex marriage.
Forum Research used the Interactive Voice Response system to take responses. The IVR machine called 2,694 people at random, asking them yes/no questions they could answer with their telephone keypad.
Eight gay activists arrested in St. Petersburg
Russian police have broken up attempts to hold two gay-rights rallies in St. Petersburg, which adopted a law this past spring against spreading “homosexual propaganda.”
Three rally organizers were arrested last Saturday at a park in Russia’s second city, and five others were detained at a later rally attempt near the landmark Smolny complex, Russian news agencies reported.
Only six people showed up for the second rally, and the three arrested at the first attempt were the only participants.
Although homosexuality was decriminalized after the fall of the Soviet Union, disdain for gays remains strong in Russia. Some rally attempts have resulted in violence by opponents.
St. Petersburg passed a law in February calling for fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,000) for spreading “homosexual propaganda.’”
China lifts ban on lesbians donating blood
Lesbians in China can now legally give blood — although the ban on sexually active gay and bisexual men remains.
The Ministry of Health announced last week that the ban on lesbians donating blood would be lifted immediately.
State media suggested that celibate gay men would also be able to donate blood, as the wording of the law does not mention homosexual identity. Instead, it says men who have sex with men cannot donate.
The blanket ban came into force in 1998, after fears of HIV transmission. Despite the statistically low risk of lesbians testing HIV-positive, all gay people were barred from donating.
In 2009, lesbians began a petition campaign to change the law.
Thousands march at incident-free Budapest Pride
Budapest Pride 2012 took place safely on July 7 despite earlier threats and the mayor’s unwillingness to support the event. Over 3,000 marchers took to the streets protected by riot police.
According to organizer Szilvia Nagy, it was the most popular Pride so far in the city.
The procession included human-rights organizations, ambassadors, opposition politicians and members of the European Parliament, and took place safely thanks to heavy police protection.
Before the Pride, far-right groups had made violent threats, publishing the names and Facebook profiles of EuroGames organizers, as well as hotels where LGBT athletes stayed for the event.
Budapest Mayor István Tarlós had replied to a letter regarding Pride safety by members of the European Parliament, saying, “Becoming absorbed in this subject matter would [not] indicate a measure of intellect.”
At the march, LGBT Intergroup vice president Sophie in’t Veld said, “This year’s Budapest Pride was a great celebration, and the police did a good job in providing protection in a calm and professional manner. However, politicians would contribute more to security by ending the climate of homophobia, so that massive police protection is no longer needed. The mayor of Budapest should consider marketing for his city: rampant homophobia, or an open, tolerant approach to diversity.”
Activists battle surgery requirement for trans recognition
Legal and human-rights groups in the Australian Capital Territory are pushing to change a law that requires transgender people to have surgery in order to change their legal gender.
Currently, trans people who want to be legally recognized in their true gender must have sex-reassignment surgery, a requirement campaigners say is unnecessary and inhumane. It is also out of step with national laws, which allow passport identity changes without surgery.
The ACT Law Reform Advisory Council has released a report with a range of recommendations to improve trans rights.
Along with the removal of the surgery requirement, the proposed changes will protect trans and intersex people from discrimination arising from mismatching identity documents — such as having passports and driving licenses that show different names and genders.
Peter Hyndal, of support group A Gender Agenda, said the proposals to remove the surgery requirement were welcome but overdue.
“It’s been a really, really long time since the issue was flagged and it would be nice to see the government move quickly,” he said. “The surgical requirement as it stands is clearly a complete contravention of the human rights of sex and gender-diverse people in the ACT.”
Attorney general Simon Corbell called the report “a valuable insight” and said the ACT government would consider the recommendations as soon as possible.
Ireland: 734 civil partnerships in first year
Almost 1,500 gays and lesbians in Ireland have taken advantage of the country’s new civil-partnerships law, which came into force in 2011.
According to research by the Irish Examiner, gay civil partnerships make up 2.6 percent of registered relationships in the country. Of the 734 couples who entered civil partnerships, 448 were gay men and 286 were lesbian.
Fifty percent of the unions have taken place in Dublin, but every county in the country, which has a population of 4.4 million, has had at least one gay partnership.
Ireland’s civil partnership laws came into force in January 2011, with the first two ceremonies taking place in exceptional circumstances due to the participants’ ill health shortly afterward. The provisions came into effect for gays and lesbians generally in April.
Moninne Griffith, director of Marriage Equality, said, “That is wonderful. It tallies with the research we have done over recent months and shows that the days are gone when LGBT people felt they had to leave for London or New York to be accepted.”
Earlier this month, the Deputy Prime Minister (Tanaiste) of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore, told Dublin Pride that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples the same rights to marry as opposite-sex couples.
Gilmore, who is the leader of the Irish Labor Party and serves as Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government, said that politicians should no longer dictate who people fall in love with or who they decide to spend their lives with.
“I believe in gay marriage,” he said. “The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil-rights issue of this generation and, in my opinion, its time has come.”
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has echoed the Deputy Prime Minister’s support for equal marriage, saying: “I believe individuals should be able to get on with their lives freely, where their circumstances don’t detrimentally impact on others.”
Kieran Rose, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in Ireland, said: “Civil partnerships have been a resounding success. Almost 1,500 people have entered civil partnerships in Ireland since they became available just over a year ago. Lesbian and gay couples are celebrating their love and commitment in front of family, friends and communities all across Ireland.”