Australian authorities refuse to recognise British couple's same-sex marriage after honeymoon tragedy

The Premier of South Australia has pledged to change discriminatory laws

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The Independent Online

A British man whose husband died in a tragic accident on their honeymoon in Australia has had his grief compounded by being told their marriage will not be recognised on the death certificate.

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi said the document will read “never married” because of laws in South Australia that not only ban same-sex marriage, but also fail to recognise legal unions from abroad.

He married his boyfriend of five years, David Bulmer-Rizzi, last year and the pair travelled to Australia last month for a honeymoon travelling the country.

Mr Bulmer-Rizzi's husband died after falling down the stairs at their friends' home in Adelaide, Australia.

But last Saturday, David died suddenly after falling down a staircase at their friends’ home in Adelaide and sustaining serious head injuries.

As relatives flew in from the UK, Mr Bulmer-Rizzi was devastated to learn that their marriage was not recognised and vital decisions about his husband would be left to his father-in-law.

“When the funeral director came that’s when I was told that because Australia doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage, it [the death certificate] will say ‘never married’,” he told Buzzfeed News, adding that he was made to feel like “nothing”.

His father-in-law, Nigel Bulmer, said he told authorities he did not want to act as next-of-kin but was given no choice.

Equal marriage supporters at a rally in Sydney, Australia

He said he was “deeply hurt” by his son’s marriage being wiped from the death certificate, denouncing the “demeaning” law that turned the Sunderland couple into “second-class citizens”.

“No one should ever have to go through what we’ve gone through,” he added. “We’re at the bottom and somebody has dug a deeper pit.”

Mr Bulmer-Rizzi has written to David Cameron, the Foreign Office and MPs asking them to intervene to ensure British all marriages are recognised in Australia and elsewhere.

Urging people to join his campaign on Facebook, he said he was “touched by the support” he has received from around the world.

“Please help me in getting David's death certificate to show we were married.‪#‎nevermarried‬ ‪#‎timeforchange‬,” he wrote.

Jay Weatherill, the Premier of South Australia, said he would personally apologise to Mr Bulmer-Rizzi and his family and pledged to introduce a bill changing discriminatory legislation in the state later this year.

“I was very saddened to hear about what Marco Bulmer-Rizzi went through after the passing of his husband David,” he said. 

“This is an example of how discrimination based on sexual orientation can cause much pain and hurt.”

While same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia, overseas same-sex marriages are recognised in some states, but not in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.