Marco and David Bulmer-Rizzi, above, were legally married in the United Kingdom back in 2015, and then took a honeymoon in South Australia early this year. Sadly, on that trip, David died after falling down a flight of stairs and what happened next was, possibly, even worse.
Since same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Australia, officials there told Marco that his husband’s death certificate would reflect the status “never married” … except they were married, and legally married at that.
But then it got uglier. While returning home to the UK with his husband’s ashes, Marco was traveling through Hong Kong where airport officials determined that Marco Bulmer-Rizzi did not have the adequate paperwork to legitimize his claim to his late husband’s remains and so they confiscated the ashes.
Yes, The Gays need added paperwork to prove marriage because we are not legally allowed to be married around the world.
“What happened to me and David was the case of stepping outside national borders and finding the legality of our union being thrown into question. It should not come as a surprise to all of the governments that have legislated to protect same-sex couples that other countries are not there yet. There are over 70 countries with laws that make homosexuality illegal. I think it is important for our governments to step up and protect rights of same-sex couples abroad.”
Sadly, for Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, there was no legislative backing from the U.K. to support same-sex couples traveling internationally.
“It was the worst possible blow at the time where I had already lost my soulmate and my life had crumbled. [But] the outpouring of support from people all over the world made me realize there is a lot more light than darkness. “
After putting him through the emotional trauma, officials at the Hong Kong airport finally allowed Bulmer-Rizzi to retrieve his husband’s ashes and return home with them, but the fact remains that for many same-sex couples, this is how we are treated when traveling around the world.
Our legal marriages are unrecognized in certain areas, and, at least in this case, sometimes our own governments won’t step in to help. Marco Bulmer-Rizzi says that he had asked British authorities to provide documentation that validated his next of kin status before leaving Australia, but was not able to do so.
After a joyous event turned tragic and ugly, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, and his friends, were finally able to scatter David’s ashes in Houghton-le-Spring, David Bulmer-Rizzi’s hometown in Sunderland.