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

By Fiona Shalley, Tom Wilson

In late 2017, Australia became the 27th country to legalize same-sex marriage, although little is known about the partners’ characteristics. To present a demographic profile of the same-sex couples who married, we assembled a unique dataset of all Australian marriages in 2018 using information supplied by state and territory registries. Estimates of Australia’s sexual minority population allowed us to calculate crude marriage rates for the population aged 18 and older for the first time. The rate of female same-sex marriage was higher than that of male same-sex marriage and nearly double that for different-sex marriage. Partners in same-sex marriages were generally older, and female same-sex marriages were more likely to include children born in a previous marriage. The Australian marriage data are consistent with many observations about same-sex marriage in a selection of other countries, but higher proportions of same-sex marriages were recorded in Australia’s first year compared to initial trends in these countries.

  • same-sex marriage
  • same-sex partnering
  • marriage equality
  • Australia
  • sexual minorities
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