11/21/2011 05:22 EST | Updated 01/21/2012 05:12 EST

Montreal Research Chair On Homophobia Launched At Universite Du Quebec A Montreal

MONTREAL - Montreal will be getting North America's first research chair on homophobia, with the Universite du Quebec a Montreal planning to study its impact on mental, physical and sexual health.

The program will receive a $475,000 grant from the Quebec government, Premier Jean Charest announced Monday.

The project will benefit from the work of 20 researchers, coming from a handful of Quebec post-secondary institutions.

The university has also received private donations and there are plans to do corporate fundraising — as well as asking for a federal contribution.

The announcement comes a month after the suicide of Ottawa teenager Jamie Hubley, whose death prompted a national conversation on homophobic bullying.

"The most recent statistics paint an alarming portrait," said provincial Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier.

"We can see that homosexual people are almost three times as likely to become victims of a violent crime as heterosexuals.

"One gay or lesbian person out of two has suicidal thoughts because of the homophobic violence at school. Elderly gay and lesbian people fear going into a residence, out of fear they'll have to hide their sexual orientation."