Today’s release of census data has shown that over 1,338 Australian same-sex couples (nearly 2,700 Australians) have identified themselves as ‘married’.
Meanwhile, 32,377 same-sex couples (nearly 65,000 Australians) are in de facto relationships and prevented from marrying.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich believes many of the gay and lesbian couples who ticked the ‘married’ box may well have done so overseas where marriage equality is legal.
“The fact that many couples have gone to the great lengths to marry overseas shows how deeply they value marriage,” he says.
“As someone who recently married overseas I understand how painful it is that my solemn vow of lifelong commitment counts for more in a foreign country than it does in the country of which I am a citizen.”
The executive director of the 2011 census Andrew Henderson told the Daily Telegraph that the same-sex marriage figure is being tabulated from data this year for the first time because of a high level of interest.
“In the past, if someone said ‘married’ we automatically coded them to de facto,” he explained.
Greenwich says it’s important the Census counts people like him and his husband “because it shows other Australians that this is not an abstract issue – married same-sex partners are here already and actively being denied rights and recognition every day of our lives.”
He added that that the Census figures could even significantly under-estimate the number of same-sex couples who are in overseas marriages.
“Many married same-sex couples would not be aware they are able to indicate if they are married on the Census, given their marriage is not legally recognised in Australia, so I expect the actual number is much greater.”
It is estimated that most Australian same-sex couples who marry overseas do so in Canada. Greenwich married in Argentina, and Same Same has heard from several couples who recently married while on holiday in New York.
In February the Australian Government removed a ban in place since 2004 which stopped same-sex partners from obtaining the paperwork required to marry in some overseas countries.
Photo: Rachael and Kim with their son Jacob.