Sexual orientation and experiences with police contact in Canada

Alexander Testa, Dylan B. Jackson, Juan Del Toro, J'Mag M. Karbeah, Jason M. Nagata, Kyle T. Ganson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To investigate the relationship between sexual orientation and police contact—including police contact with intrusion (i.e., use of intrusive verbal or physical force) and police contact with harassment (i.e., actions making one feel inferior based on appearance, identity, or demographic background)—among a national sample in Canada. Methods: Logistic and multinomial logistic regression were used to assess the association between sexual orientation and experiences with police contact among a sample of 940 persons ages 16–30 across Canada. Results: Compared to heterosexual participants, persons identifying as bisexual were significantly more likely to report having any police contact in the past 12 months (OR = 1.72, 95% CI = 1.09, 2.70). Bisexual (RRR = 3.45, 95% CI = 1. 83, 6.50) and queer, questioning, and other (RRR = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.15, 4.73) identifying participants were more likely to report having experienced police contact with harassment relative to no police contact, compared to heterosexual individuals. Conclusions: The current study provides the first analysis of the relationship between sexual minority identity and experiences with adverse police contact in Canada, revealing higher levels of police contact and police contact with harassment, especially among bisexual and queer, questioning, other individuals. Findings suggest that sexual minority persons in Canada experience potentially harmful police contact at elevated rates, which may have significant ramifications for health and traumatic stress responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Canada
  • Criminal Justice
  • Police contact
  • Sexual minority
  • Sexual orientation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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