Nova Scotia’s human rights watchdog says it is “deeply concerned” about increasing levels of hate toward the LGBTQ+ community in the province and across the country.

In a news release today, the province’s human rights commission urged all Nova Scotians to speak out to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

The watchdog points to a recent poll by Paris-based research firm Ipsos that says Canada showed some of the sharpest drops in support for queer and transgender people among the 23 countries profiled.

Results indicated that Canada had the steepest decline in support for LGBTQ+ couples kissing or holding hands in public, with 40 per cent supportive and 19 per cent opposed — a drop of 8 per cent compared with 2021.

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Canada had the second steepest decline, behind Mexico, in support of LGBTQ+ people being open about their sexual orientation and identity, with 49 per cent supportive and 15 per cent opposed — a drop of 12 per cent over the same period.

The provincial human rights commission also points to reports of a notice issued earlier this year by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service warning of an increased risk of extremist violence against queer and transgender people.

The commission says the province’s Human Rights Act forbids any differential treatment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

“Some public discourse would have us believe that by virtue of their existence, queer and trans people threaten the rights and safety of others,” said the commission’s news release. “Such rhetoric is unfounded and serves only to divide us. It is the right of all people living in this province to peacefully coexist, to live free from fear and harassment, and this is enshrined in law.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2024.