The Family Lives of Australian Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People: a Review of the Literature and a Research Agenda

  • Francisco PeralesEmail author
  • Laura Simpson Reeves
  • Stefanie Plage
  • Janeen Baxter


Families and relationships are important social domains in which the circumstances of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people often differ from those of heterosexual people. Gaining a better understanding of the family experiences of Australian LGB populations has important implications for developing our knowledge about the changing demography and dynamics of Australian family life, as well as informing policy, practice and public debate. This paper reports the findings of a review of empirical scholarship on the family experiences and outcomes of Australian LGB people published between 2000 and 2016, including academic publications and grey literature. The search yielded 99 outputs concerned with union formation, intimate partner relationships, pathways to and experiences of parenthood, child wellbeing, ‘coming out’, relationships with family-of-origin, social networks and support and access to family services. There was wide coverage and a marked increase in LGB family scholarship over time, and a predominance of qualitative over quantitative studies. We identified several areas in which further Australian evidence is needed, including union dissolution, child adoption, relationships with extended family, and interactions with institutions providing family services. Australian scholarship would also benefit from leveraging new panel datasets and probability samples, considering intersectionality, and contributing to cross-national comparative studies.


Australia Bisexual Families Gay Lesbian Review Same-sex couples 



This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award for a project titled ‘Sexual Orientation and Life Chances in Contemporary Australia’ and by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (project number CE140100027).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13178_2018_367_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 35 kb)


Asterisks denote review outputs

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Perales
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Simpson Reeves
    • 2
  • Stefanie Plage
    • 3
  • Janeen Baxter
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Social Science ResearchThe University of QueenslandIndooroopillyAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Social Science ResearchThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Social Research in HealthUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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