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Same-sex couples by Commonwealth Electoral Division.
PA R L IA M E N T A RY L I B RA RY
D E P A R T M E N T O F P A R L I A M E N T A R Y S E R V I C E S
RESEARCH NO TE
INFO RMA T IO N, A NA LY SIS A ND A DV ICE FO R T HE PA RL IA MENT
No. 61, 15 June 2004
Same-sex couples by Commonwealth Electoral Division
On 27 May 2004 the Attorney-General introduced legislation1 to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to, inter alia, define ‘marriage’ as the union of a man and a woman and to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children from overseas. The proposed amendments and the ensuing debate have raised interest in the question of the number of same-sex couples in Australia.
Statistics on the number of same-sex couples in Australia have been collected in the last two Censuses of Population and Housing. This Research Note shows the number of same-sex couples enumerated at the 2001 Census for each Commonwealth Electoral Division. The table on the following page shows the number of same-sex couples and the party holding the division for each current Commonwealth Electoral Divisions.
Every five years the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducts a Census of Population and Housing. Among the statistics collected in this exercise is data on family relationships and marital status. The ABS began collecting and tabulating data on same-sex couples at the 1996 Census. Prior to the 1996 Census data on same-sex couples was not collected.
For the Census the ABS uses the concept of ‘Social Marital Status’
to define relationships. Under this concept a marriage exists ‘when two people live together as husband and wife, or partners, regardless of whether the marriage is formalised through registration’. Information on social marital status is collected in the relationship question (question 5) of the Census schedule. Same-sex couples are defined as ‘two persons of the same sex who report a de facto partnership in the relationship question, and who are usually resident in the same household’.2
The Census form thus requires same-sex couples to volunteer information about their relationship rather than have such information explicitly asked for. This may lead to some degree of understatement of the number of same-sex couples as it may not be immediately apparent that this is a valid option for the Census form. Another potential source of undercounting could be the possible reluctance of same-sex couples to identify as such in an ‘official form’.
At the 2001 Census there were 19 594 same-sex couples in Australia. This represents a significant increase on the number enumerated at the 1996 Census. Same-sex couples represent 0.5 per cent of the number of couples (both registered married and de facto married) in Australia at the 2001 Census.
A notable feature of the data is the concentration of same-sex couples in two electoral divisions. The inner Sydney divisions of Sydney and Grayndler together contain 3443 same-sex couples, or 17.6 per cent of the same-sex couples enumerated at the 2001 Census. Same-sex couples tend to be concentrated in inner-city divisions of the capital cities (particularly Sydney and Melbourne). On the other hand, rural and regional divisions tend to have low numbers of same-sex couples enumerated. A number of metropolitan divisions (both inner-metropolitan and outer-metropolitan) also have low numbers of same-sex couples enumerated.
The average number of same-sex couples per electoral division is 130 while the median is 79 couples. Almost two-thirds of the divisions have less than 100 same-sex couples enumerated.
1. Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004. See Jennifer Norberry, ‘Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004’, Bills Digest, no. 155, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2003-04. 2. Australian Bureau of
Statistics, 2001 Census Dictionary, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 2001.
Same-sex couples by Commonwealth Electoral Division 2001 Census of Population and Housing
Division Party No Division Party No Division Party No
Adelaide (SA) LIB 284 Forde (Qld) LIB 86 Maribyrnong (Vic) ALP 30
Aston (Vic) LIB 39 Forrest (WA) LIB 54 Mayo (SA) LIB 95
Ballarat (Vic) ALP 124 Fowler (NSW) ALP 40 McEwen (Vic) LIB 83
Banks (NSW) ALP 85 Franklin (Tas) ALP 58 McMillan (Vic) ALP 37
Barker (SA) LIB 46 Fraser (ACT) ALP 319 McPherson (Qld) LIB 103
Barton (NSW) ALP 131 Fremantle (WA) ALP 109 Melbourne (Vic) ALP 741
Bass (Tas) ALP 51 Gellibrand (Vic) ALP 268 Melbourne Ports (Vic) ALP 629
Batman (Vic) ALP 428 Gilmore (NSW) LIB 72 Menzies (Vic) LIB 43
Bendigo (Vic) ALP 71 Gippsland (Vic) NP 45 Mitchell (NSW) LIB 56
Bennelong (NSW) LIB 121 Goldstein (Vic) LIB 131 Moncrieff (Qld) LIB 156
Berowra (NSW) LIB 78 Grayndler (NSW) ALP 1178 Moore (WA) LIB 58
Blair (Qld) LIB 47 Greenway (NSW) ALP 84 Moreton (Qld) LIB 144
Blaxland (NSW) ALP 39 Grey (SA) LIB 30 Murray (Vic) LIB 31
Bonython (SA) ALP 66 Griffith (Qld) ALP 215 New England (NSW) IND 57
Boothby (SA) LIB 103 Groom (Qld) LIB 33 Newcastle (NSW) ALP 195
Bowman (Qld) ALP 76 Gwydir (NSW) NP 31 North Sydney (NSW) LIB 268
Braddon (Tas) ALP 21 Hasluck (WA) ALP 87 O'Connor (WA) LIB 34
Bradfield (NSW) LIB 83 Herbert (Qld) LIB 118 Oxley (Qld) ALP 79
Brand (WA) ALP 57 Higgins (Vic) LIB 437 Page (NSW) NP 100
Brisbane (Qld) ALP 506 Hindmarsh (SA) LIB 117 Parkes (NSW) NP 37
Bruce (Vic) ALP 55 Hinkler (Qld) NP 18 Parramatta (NSW) LIB 112
Burke (Vic) ALP 80 Holt (Vic) ALP 43 Paterson (NSW) LIB 53
Calare (NSW) IND 53 Hotham (Vic) ALP 102 Pearce (WA) LIB 91
Calwell (Vic) ALP 58 Hughes (NSW) LIB 55 Perth (WA) ALP 340
Canberra (ACT) ALP 187 Hume (NSW) LIB 94 Petrie (Qld) LIB 79
Canning (WA) LIB 59 Hunter (NSW) LIB 50 Port Adelaide (SA) ALP 164
Capricornia (Qld) ALP 27 Indi (Vic) LIB 67 Prospect (NSW) ALP 30
Casey (Vic) LIB 46 Isaacs (Vic) ALP 78 Rankin (Qld) ALP 60
Charlton (NSW) ALP 81 Jagajaga (Vic) ALP 89 Reid (NSW) ALP 79
Chifley (NSW) ALP 96 Kalgoorlie (WA) LIB 66 Richmond (NSW) NP 122
Chisholm (Vic) ALP 114 Kennedy (Qld) IND 40 Riverina (NSW) NP 44
Cook (NSW) LIB 65 Kingsford Smith (NSW) ALP 254 Robertson (NSW) LIB 119
Corangamite (Vic) LIB 72 Kingston (SA) ALP 81 Ryan (Qld) LIB 85
Corio (Vic) ALP 68 Kooyong (Vic) LIB 176 Scullin (Vic) ALP 36
Cowan (WA) ALP 59 La Trobe (Vic) LIB 90 Shortland (NSW) ALP 55
Cowper (NSW) NP 70 Lalor (Vic) ALP 79 Solomon (NT) CLP 109
Cunningham (NSW) GRN 122 Leichhardt (Qld) LIB 155 Stirling (WA) ALP 103
Curtin (WA) LIB 141 Lilley (Qld) ALP 177 Sturt (SA) LIB 104
Dawson (Qld) NP 47 Lindsay (NSW) LIB 85 Swan (WA) ALP 154
Deakin (Vic) LIB 81 Lingiari (NT) ALP 53 Sydney (NSW) ALP 2265
Denison (Tas) ALP 126 Longman (Qld) LIB 56 Tangney (WA) LIB 60
Dickson (Qld) LIB 53 Lowe (NSW) ALP 226 Throsby (NSW) ALP 46
Dobell (NSW) LIB 107 Lyne (NSW) NP 65 Wakefield (SA) LIB 49
Dunkley (Vic) LIB 86 Lyons (Tas) ALP 33 Wannon (Vic) LIB 36
Eden-Monaro (NSW) LIB 111 Macarthur (NSW) LIB 64 Warringah (NSW) LIB 129
Fadden (Qld) LIB 68 Mackellar (NSW) LIB 86 Watson (NSW) ALP 132
Fairfax (Qld) LIB 84 Macquarie (NSW) LIB 268 Wentworth (NSW) LIB 528
Farrer (NSW) LIB 45 Makin (SA) LIB 51 Werriwa (NSW) ALP 81
Fisher (Qld) LIB 62 Mallee (Vic) NP 20 Wide Bay (Qld) NP 41
Flinders (Vic) LIB 66 Maranoa (Qld) NP 24 Wills (Vic) ALP 210
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2001 Census of Population and Housing, unpublished data.
Gerard Newman Statistics Section Information and Research Services
Views expressed in this Research Note are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Information and Research Services and are not to be attributed to the Parliamentary Library. Research Notes provide concise analytical briefings on issues of interest to Senators and Members. As such they may not canvass all of the key issues. Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
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