CHP Seminar - Who is getting married? The demographics of Australia’s same-sex marriage ‘pioneers’

Presenter: Fiona Shalley – October 7th 2019, 3pm-4pm, Seminar Room 515, 207 Bouverie Street Carlton, Vic.

Who is getting married? The demographics of Australia’s same-sex marriage ‘pioneers’

Same-sex marriage is surely one of the most significant socio-demographic phenomenon of the early 21st century. Australia became the 27th county in the world to legalise same-sex marriage on 9th December 2017. Using a unique Australian dataset obtained from State Territory Registrars, we present a demographic profile of gay and lesbian couples who married in the first year of the changed legislation, asking who, how many, and where they live. Situated in the international experience, this data shows that the opportunity to marry has been embraced by same-sex couples in Australia with relatively higher proportions of same-sex marriages being registered compared to initial trends in countries such as the Netherlands, England, New Zealand and Ireland. The profile identifies gender differences in the numbers marrying, age of and age differences between partners and the presence of children. Other data items are presented to describe socio-economic characteristics such as country of birth and occupation. The usual residence of the partners also provides information on the spatial distribution that improves our understanding of the broader population of gay and lesbian Australians.


With a previous career spanning over 20 years with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Fiona Shalley is now a Research Associate with the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University (CDU). She has a particular interest in the challenges associated with data about population minorities in Australia, and with Dr Tom Wilson published the first estimates of Australia’s non heterosexual population. Fiona supports empowering people with the knowledge and skills to use quantitative data to tell their stories and improve the strength of their advocacy. Her research interests include:

  • Enhancing quantitative data sources with qualitative research to contextualise and enrich data story telling
  • Supporting ethical data linkage and integration to make the most of existing data sources
  • Visualising data to aid understanding and to make statistics more accessible

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