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Local Area Estimates and Geographical Patterns of Australia’s Sexual Minority Population


The need for subnational population statistics by sexual identity is being increasingly recognised for a variety of service delivery, analysis, and policy purposes. However, such statistics are rarely produced by statistical offices or researchers. The aims of the paper are to describe a new method for calculating subnational estimates of the population aged 18 and over by sexual identity, and apply it to produce mid-2016 estimates for local areas in Australia. Census counts of persons in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, survey data by sexual identity and partnership status, and official Estimated Resident Population data are used. The method first involved preparing census-like counts of populations by sexual identity, and then scaling them using iterative proportional fitting to be consistent with local area Estimated Resident Populations and national estimates by sexual identity. We find that the geography of Australia’s sexual minority population is highly concentrated, with the highest proportions of the population identifying as a sexual minority in the inner areas of Australia’s largest cities. However, almost all parts of the county are home to at least a small sexual minority population, even in remote areas. While our estimates remain approximate due to data limitations, they provide a reasonable set of statistics on local area populations by sexual identity.

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Data Availability

Mid-2016 population estimates by sexual identity are available at

Code Availability

The Excel workbook used to undertake the calculations is available on request from the corresponding author.




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This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the DSS or the Melbourne Institute.


Funding support from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (Project Number CE1101029) is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Tom Wilson.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Ethics approval for this project was granted by the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health Human Ethics Advisory Group (ID 2056346.1).

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Wilson, T., Temple, J. Local Area Estimates and Geographical Patterns of Australia’s Sexual Minority Population. Appl. Spatial Analysis 15, 667–686 (2022).

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  • Sexual minority
  • Population estimates
  • Local area
  • Geography
  • Australia