Same Sex Marriages in Australia: a Marriage-equality Movement

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 808 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Words: 808|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Table of contents

  1. A Call to Action in Australian Community
  2. Conclusion
  3. References

Australia’s LGBTQIA+ people, and many more from most countries, have had long term suffering. In 2018, around 76 countries still criminalise homosexual activity. From the 1960s the socially progressive South Australian Labour government wanted to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality. However, it was not until the murder of Dr George Duncan, a law lecturer and gay man in May 1972, that premier, Don Dunstan, assessed that the community was willing to accept and make changes. This same-sex marriages essay explores the historical context, legal developments, and societal implications of granting equal marriage rights to LGBTQ+ couples in Australia. Australian Marriage Equality is an advocacy group driven by volunteers who have come together to pursue the legislation of same-sex marriage in Australia. AME partners with a range of different organisations and supporters Australian-wide. 

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A Call to Action in Australian Community

The expansion of legal rights and protections afforded to same-sex couples in Australia is well developed at both federal and state level. For example, legislation now exists in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory that provides for the legal recognition of relationships.

Calls for same-sex marriage continued to gain strength in the Australian community and various politicians responded by introducing more than 20 marriage equality Bills to federal parliament from 2004 to 2016. All lapsed or were defeated. At the 2016 federal election the Coalition government committed to consult the Australian community on same-sex marriage by holding a compulsory national plebiscite. Plebiscites are used by governments at all levels to test electors’ views on any issue.

The main aim and objectives for this social movement was to bring an end to the banning of same-sex couples, and allow the marriage of same-sex couples. The Government would only change the law if the plebiscite showed there was public support for same-sex marriage. The Government was unable to get support for a plebiscite through the Senate in November 2016 and decided to hold a voluntary postal survey. The survey asked eligible voters to answer either yes or no to the question ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’

The call for marriage equality grew stronger and gained increasing support from many politicians, the media and the broader Australian community. There was also some vocal resistance to same-sex marriage for reasons of personal or cultural belief, including religious adherence. The marriage equality movement used power of social media, news and advertising on radios and television to get their message across and to get people on board. This was a powerful way to get more people as it was regularly shown to everyone on all different levels and was aimed to target all age groups of voters.

The main opposition that the movement have was the government, as well as religious groups who are strongly against same-sex marriage. The Marriage Act 1961 is the federal law which sets out marriage eligibility and the requirements for a marriage to be legally recognised in Australia. In order for same-sex marriage to be legal, it would have to be passed through the government with a majority vote by Australian citizens.

The marriage-equality movement has succeeded in changing public opinion across the Western world by championing love and acceptance. Close to 13 million people or nearly 80 per cent of eligible Australians expressed their view in the survey. On 15 November 2017 the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the survey’s results which shows 61.6 per cent of participants had voted yes. Three weeks later, the House of Representatives amended the Marriage Act, redefining marriage as ‘a union of two people’.

Polls show Australians have become more tolerant of the LGBTI community, so much so that support for same-sex marriage is now a majority view. And yet many activists have become intolerant of people who might subscribe to religious or more traditional positions. It was achieved by the tireless work of supporters and volunteers over decades, some of whom didn’t live to see the overwhelming majority of Australians voting yes and the Government passing it into law.


For thousands of same-sex couples who have already married in countries including New Zealand, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands, their marriages will be recognised automatically when the bill gets royal assent from the governor general in mid-December. Australia is now among 27 countries which recognise same-sex marriage, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States as well as many South American and European countries. 


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2017. Retrieved from[email protected]/mf/3310.0

  2. Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. (2017). Results. Retrieved from

  3. Croome, R. (2019). The Fight for Marriage Equality: Australia's LGBTIQ+ Rights Movement. University of Queensland Press.

  4. Lamb, C. (2019). Same-Sex Marriage in Australia: A Social Movement Perspective. Australian Feminist Studies, 34(99), 306-321.

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  5. Evans, C., & Williams, J. (2018). 'Will you marry me?' Public opinion and the role of the marriage proposal in the Australian same-sex marriage debate. Continuum, 32(6), 784-796.

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Cite this Essay

Same Sex Marriages in Australia: a Marriage-Equality Movement. (2023, August 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from
“Same Sex Marriages in Australia: a Marriage-Equality Movement.” GradesFixer, 14 Aug. 2023,
Same Sex Marriages in Australia: a Marriage-Equality Movement. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Jun. 2024].
Same Sex Marriages in Australia: a Marriage-Equality Movement [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 14 [cited 2024 Jun 13]. Available from:
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