Toronto named one of the most sexually liberated cities worldwide

Wider acceptance of sexuality and sexual liberation is linked to a higher quality of life and better overall mental health. So you’ll be happy to learn that Toronto was ranked high on a list of the most sexually liberated cities of 2023 this week, according to online sexual health publication Lust Magazine.

Toronto took spot number 12, trailing two spots behind Vancouver and three behind Montreal, and just one spot behind New York City. The magazine looked at factors including the number of gay bars in a city, whether gay marriage is allowed, gender-affirming surgery laws, the number of annual LGBTQI+ events such as gay pride parades, access to contraceptives and PrEP medication, anti-discrimination and sex worker protection laws and whether sex work is legalized.

Toronto had more gay bars than Montreal and Vancouver at 10, and more sex shops at 57. There were nine LGBTQ+ events counted in the city, more than Vancouver’s five and Montreal’s eight. The report also noted that gender-affirming surgery is legal in Toronto, as is same-sex marriage, though the city fell behind in terms of its laws around sex work — the laws were labelled “neo-abolitionist,” in reference to a Nordic model approach to sex work where sex buyers are criminalized but sex workers are decriminalized. In some of the cities higher on the list, sex work has been legalized.

“In general, Toronto is considered a very liberal and open city, which is certainly correct, the only exception is the prostitution laws that, similarly to Sweden and a number of other countries who have adopted the Swedish model, ban the purchase of sex,” the report reads.

Toronto was ranked two spots higher compared to the magazine’s 2021 list — however, a notable difference is the number of gay bars in the city. In 2021, Toronto was listed as having 16, in comparison to this year’s 10. The pandemic was especially hard on the city’s gay bars, so it’s no surprise that the number has gone down over the years from an already low number — just take a look at New York City’s 82 bars!

Interestingly, the number of sex shops in Toronto has more than doubled since 2021, from 28 to 57 — perhaps partially due to their ability to stay open during the pandemic thanks to their categorization as a “safe supply store,” which were allowed to remain open under provincial guidelines.

However, there’s still plenty to fight for when it comes to liberation and acceptance around sexuality in Toronto — just a few months ago, police were called to a York Catholic District School Board meeting after a fight broke out over whether to fly the Pride flag during Pride Month. And just outside Toronto this month, anti-gay protestors attempted to block the entrance to a library where a family-friendly drag queen story time was taking place (and were rightfully put in their place by a women’s motorbike group, who barred the protestors from entering the premises).

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO