SOCIETY: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Same-sex couples a tiny percentage of households
, August 17, 2013
Figures recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that same-sex couples comprise only a tiny percentage of the number of households in Australia.
The figures were obtained from the 2011 Census.
They show that the number of same-sex couples living together across Australia was 33,174. In contrast, the same census data revealed that there were about 8.18 million households and 5.68 million families in Australia.
The ABS definition of families is two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually resident in the same household.
In proportional terms, same-sex couples comprised about one in every 250 households.
It is also instructive to compare the number of same-sex couples with the number of de facto couples — that is, people living together in long-term relationships without marriage.
According to the ABS, the number of these is around one million, so that same-sex couples comprise only about three per cent of the number of de facto couples in Australia.
When one looks at the number of married couples, the contrast is even more stark.
There are over four million married couples. In contrast, the number of same-sex couples is fewer than one per cent of that figure.
The figures show that the campaign to amend the law to permit same-sex couples to marry would affect a tiny proportion of the population, while fundamentally altering the nature of the institution itself for the overwhelming majority of the population.
The figures also show significant differences in parenting between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.
According to the figures, 88 per cent of same-sex couples have no dependent children living with them, compared to only 38 per cent of all couples — including “empty-nesters” whose children have grown up and are no longer living with them.
Same-sex couples living together with children would include both those who have children from previous relationships as well as those who have conceived artificially through IVF programs.
The figures suggest that marriage in this country remains closely connected with having and rearing children, and is not merely a legal register of relationships.
Some commentators have argued that marriage here is declining in popularity, with fewer people getting married and more living together without marriage.
While the data supports this conclusion, it is important to remember that 49 per cent of the Australian population over the age of 15 are married, a small decline from the proportion married in 2001 (51 per cent).
As Dr Genevieve Heard, research fellow at Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, recently pointed out, “the proportion ever married exceeded 70% at 35–39 years of age, exceeded 90% at 55–59 years, and peaked at 96% among those aged 75-79 years, 80-84 years and 85 years or more” (The Conversation, June 26, 2012).
One of the arguments pushed by the homosexual lobby is that same-sex marriage would provide marriage equality.
It is instructive to look at what has happened in Victoria since the state recognised same-sex relationships back in 2008.
Since the last Labor government in Victoria introduced the Relationships Register, fewer than 600 same-sex couples in the state have signed it (Star Observer, November 28, 2012).
This indicates that even if “same-sex marriage” was legalised, most same-sex couples would still not marry.
The number of marriages in Victoria over the same period was about 113,000, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Victorian figures highlight the fact that legal recognition of same-sex relationships has already been conceded in society, but relatively few same-sex couples avail themselves of it.
Over the years, legislation at both state and federal levels has removed any vestige of discrimination against same-sex couples.
Recent measures have included access to pensions and superannuation, protection in the workplace, and laws which outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sex or sexual preference.
The claim that marriage will confer equality on same-sex couples is therefore a sham.