Same-sex marriage: ‘Profound’ shift in community sentiment in favour, HILDA survey says

Updated 2 Aug 2017, 7:48am

Australia’s longest-running annual lifestyle survey has revealed women are having second thoughts about whether a husband is for life, while support is growing for same-sex marriage.

The University of Melbourne surveys the same 17,000 people each year for the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia report (HILDA).

It found Australian attitudes were becoming more progressive, with 67 per cent of women and 59 per cent of men stating that homosexual couples should have the same marriage, parenting and employment rights as heterosexual couples.

“We’ve seen a very profound shift in attitudes to this statement,” report author Professor Roger Wilkins said.

In 2005, only 43 per cent of woman and 32 per cent of men agreed to the statement.

“It’s quite clear that community sentiment has shifted in favour of marriage equality,” Professor Wilkins said.

The survey noted a smaller percentage of agreement among immigrants, Indigenous Australians and lower-income earners.

The HILDA report was commissioned by the Federal Government and its release comes as the Coalition grapples with an internal push for a Parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage, rather than a plebiscite.

The Senate has rejected the plebiscite but conservative Liberal Party members insist the party should stick with the policy.

Liberal senator Dean Smith is drafting a private members’ bill to legalise same-sex marriage and MPs are expecting a partyroom debate on the issue when Parliament returns next week.

Meanwhile, same-sex relationships can now be legally recognised in South Australia by signing onto a special register.

Couples on the register will be provided legal certainty in areas such as entitlements and medical care.

It is also available to heterosexual couples in a de facto relationships and comes with a certificate of registration.

See how attitudes have changed over time

Here are some of the questions from the survey. A response of 1 indicated strong disagreement while 7 indicated strong agreement.

Question: Is it alright for an unmarried couple to live together even if they have no intention of marrying?

Males 2005 Females 2005 Males 2015 Females 2015
5.1 5.0 5.6 5.6

Question: Homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples do?

Males 2005 Females 2005 Males 2015 Females 2015
3.3 4.0 4.8 5.3

Question: Children will usually grow up happier if they have a home with both a father and a mother?

Males 2005 Females 2005 Males 2015 Females 2015
5.8 5.1 5.2 4.4

Question: Is it alright for a woman to have a child as a single parent even if she does not want to have a stable relationship with a man?

Males 2005 Females 2005 Males 2015 Females 2015
3.5 3.7 4.3 4.6

‘Til death do us part?

The survey also found that on average, men agreed with the statement “marriage is a lifetime relationship and should never be ended”, however, women, on average, did not.

Question: Is marriage a lifetime relationship and should never be ended?

Males 2005 Females 2005 Males 2015 Females 2015
4.6 4.4 4.3 3.8

“This is, I guess, part of a broader tendency towards more traditional attitudes,” Professor Wilkins said.

“It’s always a good thing for men to be doing what they can to keep their partners happy.”

Professor Wilkins said the survey also revealed a desire for more gender equality in the home and workplace, but he noted the male respondents were more likely to stick to traditional views.

“I guess one explanation for that is that more progressive attitudes tend to improve women’s lot,” he said.

“So men, I guess, may be more reluctant to have progressive views because they may perceive it as harming their interests.”

Topics: marriagefamily-and-childrencommunity-and-society,australiavicmelbourne-3000

First posted 2 Aug 2017, 12:00am

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