According to 2011 census figures, 40 percent of gay couples in Australia identify themselves as Christians.

Census data, which is currently being released, recorded around 34,000 self-identifying gay couples in the country.

The 40 percent figure compares with around two-thirds of straight couples who identified as Christian during the national survey.

Buddhism was the next most popular religion among gay couples. 4 percent belonged to the faith, compared with 2.6 percent in the straight population.

Meanwhile, a plurality of 48 percent said they had no religion at all, Australia’s Gay News Network reported.

James Nevein, of Freedom2b, a group for gay Christians, told the Melbourne Age: “In every church, from the Pentecostal to the Quakers, there are gay and lesbian people there. Churches are going to have to consider this issue.”

He added: “The church has a lot to answer for, but there is also a lot of hope.”

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich said the figures demonstrated greater social integration for gay people both in urban and rural areas and highlighted the increasing number of gay people bringing up children.

He said: “The increase in children being raised by same-sex parents is a reminder of the need for marriage equality because these children are currently deprived of the security and stability having married parents can bring.

“All these demographic changes are arguments for marriage equality because they show that being in a same-sex relationship is increasingly unremarkable and not a significant marker of difference.

“With same-sex couples increasingly integrated into Australian society, our exclusion from marriage looks more and more outdated.”