Same-sex couple indicator (SSCF)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable uses relationship information to indicate whether a family are a same-sex couple family.


Couple families


1Male same-sex couple
2Female same-sex couple
3Opposite-sex couple
@Not applicable

Number of categories: 4

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • One parent families
  • Other families
  • Lone person households
  • Group households
  • Non-classifiable households
  • Unoccupied private dwellings
  • Non-private dwellings
  • Migratory, off-shore and shipping SA1s

Question(s) from the Census form

What is Person 2's relationship to Person 1?

Is the person: Male; Female; Non-binary sex

How this variable is created

This variable uses responses from the Relationship in household and Sex questions on the Census form.

Sex is captured automatically from mark box responses on the form. If a form was received but there was no response, sex is imputed. Where a respondent selected 'non-binary sex' for the Sex question, a 'male' or 'female' response is allocated using statistical processes. More information is available in the Sex (SEXP) variable. 

The responses are used in family coding where a person is classified as a 'partner in a de facto marriage' or ‘husband, wife or partner’. Persons temporarily absent are also taken into account. This information is then used to derive the Same-sex couple indicator (SSCF).

History and changes

This variable was first introduced in 2011.

For 2021 this variable includes same-sex marriages.  Amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 came into effect on 9 December 2017 enabling all couples to legally marry. The amendments removed references to sex or gender and redefined marriage as 'the union of two people to the exclusion of all others'.

Data use considerations

Care should be taken when comparing this variable to other family data from within the ABS or external organisations or agencies. The definition of a family can differ between statistical collections and may not match Census definitions.

This variable does not have a non-response rate as it is created during Census processing by using responses from more than one question on the Census form. 

Related variables and glossary terms

  • Relationship as reported for couples (RLCP
  • Relationship in household (RLHP)
  • Family
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