Same-sex couples younger and more qualified than straight couples, new stats show

Gay Pride Rally In Tel Aviv

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that same-sex married couples in the UK have higher levels of qualifications, and tend to be younger, than heterosexual couples.

Married same-sex couples, or those in civil partnerships, are also less likely to have religious beliefs than their opposite-sex counterparts, according to the research.

The average age of people in same-sex marriages was recorded at 44, compared with 55 for heterosexual couples.

For same-sex civil partnerships, the average age is 53.

The average age of women in same-sex marriages is lower than for men – 42 compared with 46 – and there is a larger proportion of men in same-sex civil partnerships, while a larger proportion of women are in same-sex marriages.

The latest ONS data also continued to identify that fewer people are getting married, with the number being the lowest ever recorded. On average, almost four out of every 10 people in England and Wales have never been married or in a civil partnership.

You may like to watch

‘A fascinating picture of how society is changing’

People from Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Caribbean or Africa and “mixed and multiple” backgrounds had the highest proportion of adults who have never been married or been in a civil partnership, the ONS figures showed.

Demography topic lead at the ONS, Steve Smallwood, described the recent findings as a fascinating picture of today’s society.

“When we account for age distribution, we can also see the proportions of adults over all who have never been married or civil partnered was highest among adults reporting ‘no religion’ and within the Black and mixed-ethnic groups,” he said.

“The census gives us a fascinating picture of how society is changing and today’s analysis shows us, for example, that adults in same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are more likely to be younger, have no religion and have higher-level qualifications than adults in opposite-sex marriages.”

When was same-sex marriage legalised in the UK?

Peter McGraith David Cabreza same-sex marriage
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza became the first same-sex couple to marry after in England. (Andrea Baldo/LightRocket via Getty)

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act won Royal Assent on 17 July, 2013, paving the way for the first gay couples in England and Wales to marry on 29 March, 2014.

England and Wales became the first parts of the UK to legalise same-sex marriage. Since then, queer couples have also been granted the right to marry in Scotland (in 2014) and, most recently, in Northern Ireland (in 2020).

Same-sex marriage was only explicitly banned in 1971, by the Nullity of Marriage Act, in England and Wales. LGBT+ couples were also prohibited from marrying through legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Things finally began to change with the passing of the Civil Partnership Act in 2004. The bill was introduced by Tony Blair‘s Labour Party and gave same-sex couples in the UK legal recognition.

Please login or register to comment on this story.