Marriage Equality Named ‘Most Significant Historical Event’ In New Study


Australians have ranked the legalisation of marriage equality as the most significant historical event to have shaped Australia, according to a recent study.

The inaugural Life In Australia Historic Events Survey, conducted by the Social Research Centre, asked 2074 Australians between the ages of 18 and 93 to identify what they considered to be the most significant events in their lifetime.

Same-sex marriage topped the list of historic events, followed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The passage of marriage equality also topped the list of times or events when Australians felt most proud of their country, followed by the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers left the most people feeling disappointed in their country.

Social Research Centre Chief Executive Darren Pennay said the high ranking of marriage equality wasn’t surprising given the proximity of the survey to the vote, and tracking its position in ten years’ time would be interesting.

“The popularity of same-sex marriage in this survey surely contradicts the claim that Australians regarded it as, at best, a second-order issue,” he said.

“Human rights issues, terrorism, Australian politics, and war were the most recurrent themes in participant responses across all age groups.

“These similar responses paint a picture of Australian values that transcend generational gaps.

“As we approach Australia Day, it is also striking that Indigenous issues such as the Apology, the Mabo decision, and the 1967 Aboriginal referendum continue to resonate in our collective memory, as do immigration-related events such as the refugee crisis and offshore detention centres.”

Participants in the survey were reflective of the broader Australian population, the study’s researchers said.

The study found differences between the responses of male and female participants, with more males ranking 9/11 as the most significant event and females likelier to nominate same-sex marriage.

The ten most significant historic moments to impact Australia according to the survey are:

1. Legalisation of same-sex marriage, 2017 – nominated by 30% of participants
2. September 11 terrorist attacks, 2001 – 27%
3. Apology to Indigenous Australians, 2008 – 13%
4. Port Arthur Massacre, 1996 – 13%
5. Sydney Olympic Games, 2000 – 12%
6. Dismissal of the Whitlam Government, 1975 – 12%
7. Australia in the Vietnam war, 1962-1973 – 11%
8. Apollo 11 moon landing, July 1969 – 9%
9. Arrival of the Internet, 1989 – 9%
10. A three-way tie: America’s Cup win, 1983; Global Financial Crisis, 2008; First female Australian prime minister, 2010-2013 – 8%

See the full results of the study at the Social Research Centre’s website here.