More than 6500 same-sex couples wed in Australia in 2018, the first full year after their marriages were legalised, statistics show.
Out of the 119,188 couples who tied the knot in the 12-month period, same-sex marriages accounted for 5.5 per cent of those getting hitched, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
Amendments to the Marriage Act allowing same-sex marriage came into effect after a divisive national plebiscite and then a parliamentary vote in late 2017. The bill received royal assent on December 8, 2017.
ABS health and vital statistics section director James Eynstone-Hinkins, said 2018 was the first full calendar year in which same-sex couples could legally marry in Australia.
“In 2018, same-sex marriages represented 5.5 per cent of the total number of marriages and inclusion of these marriages has influenced some key statistics,” said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins.
One notable detail was that the median age of those getting hitched jumped.
“The median age at marriage recorded the greatest increase in more than a decade. This was largely because the median age of same-sex couples was considerably higher than that of opposite-sex couples,” he said.
The median age of same-sex couples who united in holy – or civil – matrimony was 44.9 years for men and 39.3 years for women. Straight couples had a median age of 32.1 years for men and 30.2 years for women.
Alex Greenwich, an independent MP for Sydney and Australian Marriage Equality co-chair said that the comparatively high median age showed many couples had been together for a long time.
“There are couples who have been together for a decade who are marrying in their 60s and 70s and that is going to impact those statistics,” he told The New Daily.
Mr Greenwhich said the statistics were a reminder that the sky didn’t fall in after same-sex marriage was legalised.
“Since marriage equality what we’ve seen is so much joy and happiness spread across Australia as people who thought they would never get married were able to,” he said.
“All the main arguments the opponents used during the campaign have not only been exposed and proven as wrong but are now seen as downright ridiculous.
“The tone of the opponents used was quite damaging, we do know they targeted specific groups including children and trans and gender diverse communities and now for them to be proven completely wrong they need to apologise for the damage and hurt they caused.”
The law change was greeted with particular enthusiasm by lesbian couples, who represented 57.8 per cent of the same-sex pairings who walked down the aisle in 2018, compared to the 42.2 per cent who were men.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 98.9 per cent of same-sex marriages were administered by civil celebrants. Of the 79 couples who were married by a religious celebrant, the Uniting Church accounted for 23.
Love was in the air most heavily in NSW, which held almost a third of the same-sex weddings (2290), followed by Victoria (1655), Queensland (1292), Western Australia (600), South Australia (387), Tasmanian (143), Australian Capital Territory (130) and the Northern Territory (47).
The data was released as part of Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2018, which also showed that the most popular season to wed was spring (31.8 per cent of all marriages). The most popular date on the calendar was Saturday, October 20, with 1993 couples tying the knot.
The information also showed that there were 49,404 divorces in Australia in 2018. The crude rate was 2.0 divorces per 1000 people in 2018, compared to 2.7 in 1998.