Gay men earn less than straight, but still more than women

GAY men earn about 20 per cent less than straight men, but gay women earn at least 33% more than straight women.

University of Melbourne and San Diego State University research has shown that sexual orientation impacts earning rates, but in different ways.

UM professor Mark Wooden said while employers were most likely discriminating against gay men due to their sexual preference, gay women earned more money as they worked longer hours than heterosexual women.

"Employer discrimination is likely a major part of the explanation for these wage gaps, especially in the case of gay men. But this research has found other factors that also contribute to this situation," Prof Wooden said.

"Lesbian women earn more than their heterosexual counterparts not because they are paid better, but because they work so much more.

"One explanation for the increased earnings and longer work hours of lesbians might be that this group are less likely to have children than heterosexual women."

The study also reported even larger pay gaps for men who live with a partner.

"Gay males who are most likely to be observably gay by employers - those who live with a same-sex partner - face larger earnings penalties than those who are discreet about their sexuality," Prof Wooden said.