The Demography of Australia's Same-Sex Marriage 'Pioneers': Results from the First Year of Marriage Equality

Fiona Shalley , Charles Darwin University
Tom Wilson, The University of Melbourne

Same-sex marriage is one of the most significant socio-demographic phenomena of the early 21st century, with Australia becoming the 27th county to legalise same-sex marriage in late 2017. However, very little is known about those who are getting married to a same-sex partner in Australia. The aim of this paper is to describe the key demographic characteristics of same-sex marriages and those who married in the first year in which it was permitted by law. We assembled a unique dataset of all marriages in Australia in 2018 using information supplied by State/Territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and present a demographic profile of the gay and lesbian couples who married, at national, State/Territory and sub-state scales. Relative to international experience, these data show the opportunity to marry has been embraced by same-sex couples in Australia, with higher proportions of marriage registrations compared to initial trends in many other countries. Crude marriage rates of same-sex couples were enabled through recently published experimental estimates of the non-heterosexual population in Australian. Rates were higher across every Australian jurisdiction when compared to opposite-sex couples, and more lesbian than gay marriages were solemnised. Gender differences were also evident in their age at marriage, age differences between partners and prior experience of marriage. These Australian data confirm many observations about same-sex partners in international research and open up opportunities to monitor continuing marriage rates, relationship satisfaction, relative divorce risks and the general well-being of couples and their children.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course