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In the event of an unexpected end to a de facto relationship (such as death of a partner), the surviving partner must often prove the existence of a relationship in order to be registered as the next of kin on a death certificate and receive government bereavement payments and access to a partner's superannuation. Given that, prior to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, same-sex couples did not have the option to marry, as heterosexual couples did, these discrepancies could have a particularly discriminatory impact on same-sex couples.

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These failed attempts came after the Howard Government amended the law in August 2004 to exclude same-sex marriages.

The Australian Capital Territory passed a same-sex marriage law in December 2013, though this was struck down by the High Court on the grounds that such a law could only be introduced by the Commonwealth.

are available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

De facto relationships provide couples who are living together on a genuine domestic basis with many of the same rights and benefits as married couples.

The law came into effect on 9 December, immediately recognising overseas same-sex marriages.

The first same-sex wedding under Australian law was held on 15 December 2017.

Two people can become a de facto couple by entering into a registered relationship (i.e.: civil union or domestic partnership) or by being assessed as such by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.

Couples who are living together are generally recognised as a de facto relationship and thus able to claim many of the rights and benefits of a married couple, even if they have not registered or officially documented their relationship.

Such unions are recognised as de facto relationships under federal law.

Prior to legalisation, same-sex marriage legislation had been rejected by the Federal Parliament on 22 occasions between September 2004 and May 2017.

The reforms came in the form of two pieces of legislation, the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—General Law Reform) Act 2008 and the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Act 2008.

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