Data from Australia’s 2011 census have been released today and show 33,714 gay couples, 1,338 of whom are married.

The number of same-sex relationships is equivalent to 0.48 per cent of the total number of couples recorded in the survey and has risen from 25,600 in 2006.

For the first time, gay couples had the option of recording themselves as married in the census, though Australia does not legally recognise them as such at the federal level.

1,338 couples said they had married, after the country permitted citizens the necessary certificates to marry abroad in countries which do permit gay couples to wed.

The five-yearly census found male couples slightly outnumbered female couples, by 17,583 to 16,131.

New South Wales had the most same-sex couples in terms of population, with 0.85 percent of couples being gay. 0.75 percent were gay in Victoria, 0.63 percent in Queensland and 0.53 percent in Western Australia.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said: “The fact that at least 1338 same-sex couples have gone to the great lengths to marry overseas shows how deeply they value marriage.

“As someone who recently married overseas I understand how painful it is that my solemn vow of lifelong commitment counts for more in a foreign country than it does in the country of which I am a citizen.

“It’s important the Census counts people like me because it shows other Australians that this is not an abstract issue – married same-sex partners are here already and actively being denied rights and recognition every day of our lives.”

He added: “Many married same-sex couples would not be aware they are able to indicate if they are married on the Census, given their marriage is not legally recognised in Australia, so I expect the actual number is much greater.”