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Not So Private Lives is the first national study to examine same-sex attracted Australians’ preferences for various forms of relationship recognition since the introduction of de facto status for same-sex couples at a federal level. It is also the first major study to investigate preferences for relationship recognition while taking into account the current legal status (in Australia or overseas) of an individual’s same-sex relationship.
Findings from the relationship recognition measures of this survey demonstrate that same-sex attracted individuals, like other Australians, differ in the way they prefer their relationships to be formally recognised. However, the results show that the majority of same-sex attracted participants in this survey selected marriage as their personal choice. A federally recognised relationship documented at a registry other than marriage was the second most popular option, and de facto status was the third. The preference for a relationship without any legal status was selected by only 3% of the overall sample.
Interestingly, marriage was still the majority choice irrespective of the current legal status of participants’ same-sex relationships (including no legal status). For example, of those currently in a de facto relationship, 55.4% stated they preferred marriage for themselves, 25.6% stated that they preferred a federally recognised relationship other than marriage, 17.7% selected de facto and 1.3% chose no legal status.
Participants were also given the opportunity to select which forms of legal relationship recognition they would like to see remain and/or become available in this country for same-sex couples in general. Responses to this measure (which allowed for multiple selections) show that 77.4% would like to see marriage become available as an option, 59.9% would like to see a federally recognised relationship other than marriage be made available and 48% would like to see de facto recognition remain. These numbers indicate that many participants selected multiple options, suggesting that simply having a choice was an important factor.
Although the data from this survey indicate that marriage is not for everyone, the majority of same- sex attracted participants in this national survey selected this type of relationship recognition as their personal choice and as a choice to be made available for their fellow same-sex attracted Australians.