The number of same-sex couples getting married in Australia dropped by around 15% in 2019. Around 5,507 same-sex marriages were recorded  in 2019, the second full year since the 2017 Marriage Equality reforms, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This was down from 6,538 same-sex marriages registered in 2018. The numbers are likely to see a steep fall this year. ABS’s provisional data also revealed a 31.9% decrease in marriages between January to June 2020.

The ABS’ national and state statistics of marriages and divorces were released last month. Around 113,815 marriages were registered and 49,116 divorces granted in 2019. Same-sex marriages constituted 4.8% of all marriages registered. In the same period, there were 104 divorces of same-sex couples or around 1% of all divorces. ABS survey showed that over half a million, or 2.7% of Australians, identified as being gay, lesbian or bisexual in 2019.

Australia’s first openly gay government leader and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr was among the Australian same-sex couples who got married in 2019. Barr married his partner of 20 years, Anthony Toms in November 2019. The small and intimate family ceremony took place in Newcastle, Toms’ hometown.

“We had a lovely day and want to thank the 7.8 million Australians (and especially the 175,000 Canberrans) who voted yes to marriage equality,” Barr had posted on Instagram.

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 New South Wales led the nation with the most number of same-sex weddings (2,004), followed by Victoria (1,385), Queensland (1,030), South Australia (310), Western Australia (527), Tasmania (130), ACT (76) and Northern Territory (38).

Of the same-sex marriages, 2,262 were male couples and 3,243 were female couples. Male couples waited to get married, when compared to female couples, but just by a few years. The median age for male couples getting married was 39.3, while for female couples it was 36.5. Both spouses were born in Australia in just over half or around 53.22% of the same-sex weddings in 2019. In 34.37% (1,893) cases both couples were from different countries and in 12.38% (682) of the weddings, both the couples were from the same overseas country. A majority of the weddings (97%) had a civil celebrant and the remaining was by a religious officiant.

With same-sex marriages legalised in 2017, divorces are not far behind. According to data provided by the Family Court of Australia, 70 same-sex female couples and 34 male same-sex couples were granted a divorce.

The changes to the Marriage Act of 1961 that allowed same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia, came into effect on December 9, 2017. Around 21 same-sex weddings were registered in December 2017, 6,538 in 2018 and 5,507 in 2019.

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 This year many  weddings were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic related lockdowns, restrictions on social gatherings and travel in Australia. According to provisional data released by ABS, 38,000 marriages took place between January and June 2020, falling 31.9% when compared to an average of 55,000 marriages over the past five years during the same months.

“Despite the restrictions, nearly 10,000 weddings went ahead between April and June 2020,” James Eynstone-Hinkins, Director of the ABS Health and Vital Statistics Section said in a statement. ABS did not reveal the break up of the marriage data for the number of same-sex weddings that went ahead between January and June, 2020.

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