Despite Mardi Gras, Sydney not Australia’s gay & lesbian capital

gay & lesbian capital

An analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data by ABC journalist and digital producer Markus Mannheim shows Australia’s gay and lesbian capital is not Sydney but Canberra.

Statistically, same-sex couples are 50% more common in Canberra, with lesbian couples rating even higher at 65%.


Despite the higher ratio of same-sex couples in Canberra, the majority of Australian same-sex couples do live in NSW and Victoria. Together, those two states account for almost two-thirds of the Australian total.

Although the ABS does not include questions on sexual orientation in the Census, it determines how many Australians live with a same-sex partner from their responses to other questions.

However, Marcus Mannheim cautions the methodology only captures a low estimate of actual LGBTIQ numbers.

“This leads to very conservative estimates of the same-sex-attracted population.”

TOP 10 Gay and Lesbian Australian Cities

(Percentage of same-sex couples as estimated from Census figures)

Canberra 1.4%

Sydney 1.28%

Cairns 1.25%

Melbourne 1.13%

Brisbane 1.07%

Hobart 1.02%

Darwin .97%


Townsville .94%

Newcastle .86%

Central Coast .84%

Surprisingly, despite its reputation as a conservative –  indeed – homophobic state, Queensland has three cities in the Top Ten.

Although the ABS offers no explanation for Canberra’s primacy over Sydney as a gay and lesbian capital, it does mention that same-sex couples are more likely to live in capital cities than elsewhere. Of course, that fits with the all too common narrative of LGBTIQ people fleeing to the nearest capital city for the support not available at home.

Even then, in the capital cities themselves, same-sex couples are concentrated in inner-city areas.

Top Gay and Lesbian suburb of each Australian capital city

NSW – Darlinghurst 19.6%

Victoria – Collingwood 9.2%

Queensland – Fortitude Valley 7.2%

WA – Highgate 6.3%

ACT -Braddon 5.1%

Tasmania – Hobart City 3.6%

SA – Adelaide City 3.7%

NT – The Gardens 2.7%

Australian attitudes to same-sex relationships

Statistics also show almost 30,000 relationships identified by the ABS as same-sex in 2016 compared to about 10,000 in 2011.

The increase in identifiable same-sex couples occurred alongside an increased agreement in the general community that gay and lesbian couples should be accorded equal rights with opposite-sex couples.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey undertaken by the Melbourne Institute and funded by the federal government shows a rapid change of attitude.

While only 38% of respondents believed in equal rights for same and opposite-sex couples in 2005, by 2011, the number rose to 51%. Of course, in 2017, 61.6% of respondents to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey voted in favour of same-sex marriage.

The HILDA Survey also showed a distinct correlation between age and attitude. Support for equal rights decreased with each and every increased age bracket. In other words, the older people were, the less inclined to support equal rights.

Therefore, we may live in hope. Because homophobes and people who would deny LGBTIQ people equal rights are statistically an endangered species.

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