Australia refuses to recognise marriage of British man’s husband who died on honeymoon

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi appeals to UK government after he is told South Australian death certificate will record late husbands status as never married

An English man has called on the UK government to intervene after he was told his late husbands status would be recorded on a South Australian death certificate as never married.

David Bulmer-Rizzi died on Saturday after falling down stairs and cracking his skull at a friends home during the newlyweds honeymoon in South Australia.

Australia has not legalised same-sex marriage. Overseas same-sex marriages are recognised in some states, but not in South Australia.

The dead mans husband, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, was told the death certificate would state never married and he would not be recognised as next of kin. All arrangements for his husbands funeral had to be made by Davids father, Nigel Bulmer, who flew to Australia on hearing of the accident.

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi told BuzzFeed that in the eyes of the Australian government Im nothing.

The couple, who lived in Sunderland, married in south London in June 2015 and arrived in Australia in late December for their honeymoon.

Guardian Australia has contacted Bulmer-Rizzi for comment.

Advocates for marriage equality in South Australia called on the states government to join Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in recognising overseas marriages.

Most South Australians would find it appalling that our law has failed to recognise the love and commitment in David and Marcos relationship, said Harley Schumann, South Australian convenor for Australian Marriage Equality.

A high priority for us is lobbying the South Australian government so this cant happen again.

Western Australia and the Northern Territory also do not recognise overseas same-sex marriages.

Australian Marriage Equalitys national director, Rodney Croome, said the tragic case tarnished Australias international reputation.

I am angry about the pain Davids partner and family have been put through, the way this tarnishes Australias reputation and the fact our federal government has unnecessarily delayed reform by proposing a plebiscite.

This tragedy highlights not only the need for marriage equality but its urgency.

The federal Coalition government has proposed a plebiscite on same-sex marriage after the next federal election (due this year), without specifying how the result will influence any legislation.

All states should recognise overseas unions as an interim measure, Croome said. But the only way to ensure the love and commitment in same-sex relationships is equally recognised and respected is marriage equality at a national level.

A spokesman for the British high commissioner in Canberra said he would have to seek comment from London but was aware of the case, which he said was very distressing.

Bulmer-Rizzi said when he contacted the British consulate he was told that legislation differs from state to state … and as such when registering death the local authority cannot state the deceased as married.

He said he had written to David Cameron, the UK Foreign Office and three MPs urging them to defend their own laws in foreign territories.

I understand they cant change Australian law, but Im not asking them to, he told BuzzFeed. Im asking my own country to stand by its own laws. If the British government is aware that other countries do not recognise same-sex marriage they should try to defend what their law says.

Senator Robert Simms of the Australian Greens said: Its appalling that a grieving husband is being treated this way. It really is degrading and humiliating and an example of the cruel nature of this element of Australian law.

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