A survey of gay and lesbian Australians has found that the majority would prefer marriage over civil partnerships.

The research, Not So Private Lives, by the University of Queensland, found that 51.4 of the 2,061 people surveyed said they would prefer to be married and 80 per cent thought gay marriage should be legal.

Twenty-seven per cent said they wanted another form of legal recognition, such as a federally recognised registry

Researcher Sharon Dane commented: “The findings work to dispel the myth that most same-sex people do not wish to marry or are content with de facto status.

“This majority preference for marriage may be a reflection of the fact that fewer same-sex couples feel the need to live their lives in secret. Although same-sex sexuality is still stigmatised at some level, a generally less hostile environment means same-sex couples can live their lives more openly and honestly and in doing so with to be treated like everyone else.”

Although domestic partnerships are available for gay couples in some Australian states, giving similar benefits to marriage, the country’s prime minister Kevin Rudd has been steadfast in his opposition to gay marriage.

Last month, around 2,000 demonstrators marched on the Labor Party’s annual conference in Sydney, Australia, to protest about the continuing ban on gay marriage.

Chanting “gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right”, many of those outside the conference wore wedding veils and participated in mock ceremonies.