Same-sex couples on the rise
SAME-SEX couples in Northern NSW accounted for a higher proportion of all couples than anywhere in Australia outside a capital city and parts of Victoria according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The report, compiled from data collected during the 2011 Census, revealed same-sex couples accounted for 0.7% of all couples in Australia and numbered more than 33,000.
That number was 32% more than recorded at the 2006 Census.
But the rate was higher than the national average in parts of Northern NSW and, outside a capital city, only greater in the Victorian local government area of Hepburn (3.6%) which includes the town of Daylesford, popular with the lesbian and gay community.
Next best was the Victorian area of Mount Alexander which was matched by the Byron Shire at 1.5% and followed by the Lismore local government area at 1.3%.
The number in Byron Shire included boutique hotel consultants Peter Watsford and Sean Cadzow of Federal.
They believe the increase was due to more couples "coming out" and declaring their relationships.
"I don't think there was an influx of people getting together that weren't doing it four or five years ago," Mr Watsford said.
"Equal rights and marriage equality have been on the agenda a lot more than previously and I think more people are feeling comfortable with declaring their long-term relationships."
Equal Love Northern Rivers spokeswoman Angela Pollard agreed the increase was not necessarily due to more relationships forming but rather more reporting their relationships.
And she said they did not reflect the true number of same-sex couples.
"At some point we will finally get to see what the actual figures are for gays and lesbians," she said.
"At this stage we don't know because so many fly under the radar because of fear of homophobia or discrimination."
SAME-SEX COUPLES IN THE CENSUS
- 33,714 - 32% higher than the number at the 2006 Census.
- 16,131 lesbian and 17,584 gay (109 gay couples for every 100 lesbian couples)
- 0.7% of all "couple families" (0.9% in capital cities, 0.5% in regional areas)
- Highest in Sydney and Canberra (1.1%) and lowest in Perth and Adelaide (0.6%)
- Byron Shire - 1.5%
- Lismore City - 1.3%
- Bellingen Shire - 1.2%
Source: ABS, 2011 CENSUS