Results of the 2011 Census are becoming available – and as you might have seen reported, for the first time same-sex couples who identified themselves as married were reported in the census results.

In NSW, 12,731 same-sex couples (both married and defacto) identified themselves in the census. Of these, just over 10,000 lived in the greater Sydney area.

Same-sex couples are concentrated especially in inner city areas – with a higher percentage of same-sex couples in the local government areas of Sydney (11.3 percent of all couples), Marrickville (7.4 percent), Leichhardt (3.5 percent) and Woollahra (2.7 percent).

There are other little pockets of rainbows in NSW, with higher proportions of gay and lesbian couples reported in Byron Bay, Lismore, Bellingen and Newcastle.

The living in Surry Hills or Newtown is relatively easy for our community. If you walk home from work down Oxford Street, you may feel we’ve really got the numbers. In some ways people who live near the city are lucky.

However, inner city living is not everybody’s preference and often as people want more space, or have families, or prefer to steer clear of the ‘scene’, or cannot afford inner-city prices, they migrate outwards.

It may be that couples living outside the city are less likely to come out in the census, or that there are large numbers of same-sex attracted people living outside the city who are single and therefore not counted in the census.

As my co-convenor mentioned in our column last week, we were lucky enough to attend the annual Aurora fundraising dinner where the managing director of Twenty10 spoke about one girl’s story of being outed to her school and family.

Young people, of course, live all over the state, and rarely within the safe confines of the inner city.  Since they are rarely in defacto relationships, they are also not reflected in the census.

There are also important concerns in recognising older gay and lesbian people who feel uncomfortable about disclosing personal details to the government for fear of discrimination or harassment.

We need to support those of us living outside the inner city too. This can be challenging because these people are not located in proximity to support services in the same way as those people in the city. We need to find ways to provide services to these demographics.

The Inner City Legal Centre released a report – Outing Injustice: Understanding the legal needs of LGBTI communities – in NSW last Friday. The report contains the results of a survey of around 600 GLBTI people across NSW looking at legal needs and rights in areas such as parenting, discrimination, harassment and vilification. In that survey, respondents from regional and remote areas, on average, experienced greater legal needs than their Sydney counterparts.

If you are a same-sex attracted person living outside the city, the GLRL would love to hear from you. As part of our upcoming anti-discrimination workshops we are targeting workshops outside the inner city region.

INFO: www.glrl.org.au

By LAINIE ARNOLD, NSW GLRL

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