Australia is conducting a postal survey asking people if same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. About 16 millions survey cards were sent this week, and one voter got quite a laugh when he received his – its unique barcode clearly read "BUMSEX."

On 16 September, Jess Wheeler from Melbourne, shared a picture on Twitter of the letter his friend had received, writing: "@ABBStats I don't think you guys are taking this thing seriously."

It appears more unfortunate words have slipped into the official documents. Another user shared his letter, with the word "DICK" contained in the barcode.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which oversees the survey, was prompt to apologise for the blunder.

"The ABS acknowledges that in issuing 16 million barcodes it did not check and remove words and phrases that may be offensive," deputy statistician Jonathan Palmer said in a statement.

"The codes were issued using an algorithm generating more than two quintillion combinations of letters and numbers in order to generate highly secure barcodes," he added.

Palmer stated the ABS would replace the letters on demand if need be, and would look carefully at new issues.

Social media users didn't fail to see the funny side of the incident, with some pointing out "BUMSEXM8" would have been "way more Australian." Others praised the beauty of randomness.

The barcode on the letter Jess Wheeler's friend received. Twitter/@Wheelswordsmith

While this may sound like a funny anecdote about the national survey, same-sex marriage has been at the centre of a heated debate for months in Australia. Public opinion was rocked by several scandals regarding the vote.

Just last week, a pastor cancelled a wedding ceremony because the bride-to-be supported gay-marriage.

After the young woman voiced her opinion in a Facebook post, the couple were called by the church and told their wedding was off. In a follow-up letter, the priest explained:"You must surely appreciate that your commitment to same-sex marriage opposes the teaching of Christ."

In another instance, a man tried to sell his vote on a popular auction site, stating he didn't care: "but thought there are people who do." His starting price was $1,500.

The postal survey itself isn't compulsory nor binding, and its results won't be disclosed until mid-November.