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30 Jun 2022

How many same-sex weddings have their been in Australia since Marriage Equality?

The latest census gives us an insight.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published the first round of results from its 2021 census, revealing that 23,914 same-sex marriages have taken place since marriage equality was legalised in 2017.
Sadly, this is about all the data on the LGBTQ+ population Australians can expect.
In August 2021, the Star Observer reported that the census would neglect to ask residents about gender identity or sexual orientation.
This was a result of the Scott Morrison-led government, which refused to acknowledge calls from LGBTQ+ organisations to add such questions.
The new data has reignited calls to better record LGBTQ+ people in the 2026 census, with advocacy groups asking the newly appointed Anthony Albanese led government to follow the examples of the UK, New Zealand, and Canada.
Equality Australia has always been vocal on the matter. Its CEO Anna Brown said: “The release of census data gives us fascinating insights into the diversity of the Australian community – what we believe, what language we speak at home, rates of chronic disease, and other key demographic data that will inform crucial decisions about what services are provided to communities, and where.
“But once again, lesbian, gay, bi+, transgender, intersex and queer people are not properly represented in the census data, because the ABS and the minister responsible at the time failed to ensure much-needed questions about sexual orientation, gender identity or variations in sex characteristics were asked or asked properly.”
She added: “Until we’re counted, we’ll remain invisible. That’s why – with the first release of 2021 census data – our communities are coming together again to say that it’s time for the census to stop leaving LGBTIQ+ people out, and count us in.”
Australian’s head statician Dr David Gruen has said that the diversity and changing structure of Australian families has also been highlighted by the census.
Gruen said that the latest findings “provides a fascinating glimpse into the structure and changing profile of Australian families”.
While the release gives a brief glimpse, it doesn’t show the number of LGBTQ+ couples not married.
The ABS 1996 census recorded over 10,000 same-sex couples; this marked the first time the number of same-sex relationships had been counted.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has published the first round of results from its 2021 census, revealing that 23,914 same-sex marriages have taken place since marriage equality was legalised in 2017.

However, the census questions didn't ask people about gender identity or sexual orientation, so it's not possible to place the number of same-sex marriages within any broader population context in terms of the queer community.

For example, it would be useful to know how many people were living in same-sex relationships but are not married.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people who live in Australia?

What’s life like for LGBTQ people who live in Australia? Let's take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

Is it legal to be gay?

Yes. The United Kingdom invaded the continent we now know as Australia in 1788. The colonies that they established inherited their laws from the UK – including the Buggery Act of 1533 that made sodomy a crime punishable by death.

Over time, the colonies developed into states, and a federation was created so that they could operate as one country.

Sodomy remained a crime punishable by death until 1949 (some states removed it earlier than others).

Being gay remained a crime in Australia until 1997 (although some states began the repeal process in 1975).

It is now legal to be gay in Australia.

Is there anti-discrimination legislation in place?

Yes. Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was implemented across all states in Australia in 2013. Prior to that, the anti-discrimination protections had been evolving (from around 1986) but had been fragmented.

Is there marriage equality?

Yes. Following a public vote in 2017, Australia has embraced marriage equality.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people who live in Australia?

While there are still isolated incidents of homophobia and anti-gay violence, Australia is a good place to be gay.

You will find gay people living openly in communities across the country (not just the larger cities), and media representation of LGBTQ characters is generally positive. There are numerous Pride celebrations held across the country.

However, LGBTQ people from Indigenous communities have poorer health outcomes and face additional barriers to living openly.

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 ILGA Asia - Fridae partner for LGBT rights in Asia IGLHRC - Fridae Partner for LGBT rights in Asia