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Share of religious and civil celebrant marriages in Australia 1998-2018

In 2018, marriages performed by civil celebrants accounted for 79.7 percent of marriages in Australia. Civil celebrants are performing an increasing share of marriages in Australia as opposed to marriages performed by a minister of religion.

 Marriage and religion

Marriages in Australia and most English-speaking countries have traditionally been performed in a church by a Christian minister or priest. However, preferences are changing to suit Australia’s diverse population. Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu weddings ceremonies are becoming more common but the biggest change is in the number of people having secular weddings. This separation from traditional church weddings may have something to do with the increasing numbers of Australians who do not identify with a religion.

 Same-sex marriage

At the end of 2017, the Marriage Act 1961 was amended to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia. This came after a nation-wide postal survey asking Australians to give their opinion on whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. Australians voted in favor of the legislation change and in the following year, over 2,000 same-sex marriages were officiated by civil celebrants in the state of New South Wales alone.

Share of religious and civil celebrant marriages in Australia in 1998, 2008, and 2014 to 2018

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Release date

November 2019



Survey time period

1998, 2008, 2014 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Data for 'Ministers of religion' is comprised of marriages for which the rites were coded to: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Other religions and 'Religious belief not further defined'

Data for 'Civil celebrants' is comprised of marriages coded to No religion and Civil marriages.

Amendments have been made to historical marriage celebrant data presented in this table, as a result of classification updates made in 2016.

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