New data shows huge increase in same-sex couples living together


Stock photo of gay couple in a relationship embracing side by side.
Image: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

There has been an almost seventy percent increase in the number of gay and lesbian couples who are living together in Australia since the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2017, according to a new report.

The latest Census data from 2021 found that there were 78,000 gay and lesbian couples living together across Australia.

That’s a whopping increase of 68% over the 47,000 who disclosed their relationships on Census night in 2016.

Same-sex couples now make up 1.4% of all couples in Australia according to the 2021 Census data, up from 0.9% in 2016.

The number of gay and lesbian couples living together has been steadily rising since 1996 when data was first collected nationally.

But researchers from the Australian Institute of Family Studies have now found that the 2016 to 2021 period saw the sharpest increase since 2001.

Families and Family Composition: Facts and Figures 2023
report co-author Dr Lixia Qu said the rise in same-sex couples living together could reflect the change to the Marriage Act in 2017, as well increasing societal acceptance of people in same-sex relationships in the years since then.

“It could be an increasing willingness for same-sex couples to disclose their relationship – or for partners to form a couple household, instead of living separately,” Dr Qu said.

“The change in legislation may have impacted women in particular, as we’ve seen the number of women [living together] in same-sex relationships rise rapidly in the last few years.”

In 1996 male same-sex couples accounted for 58% of all same-sex couples. But from the 2021 Census data, the number of women in same-sex relationships is now almost equal.

Co-author, Dr Jennifer Baxter, said the report demonstrates the changing dynamics around marriage equality in Australia.

“Whether it means more same-sex couples are making the decision to live together, or feeling more comfortable disclosing their status as a same-sex couple, this report does indicate a societal shift in recent years,” Dr Baxter said.

“It highlights the power of legislation – when it is used to create a more just and equal society – to change attitudes, as well as behaviours.”

The new data comes as the ruling Australian Labor Party moves to endorse plans for the 2026 Census to collect data on the number of LGBTIQA+ Australians at its upcoming National Conference in Brisbane.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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