Marco and David Bulmer-Rizzi (Facebook)
A gay British couple’s honeymoon in Australia has ended in tragedy and humiliation after one of the men died and the survivor was refused recognition as his husband.
According to Buzzfeed, the couple of more than five years, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, 38, and David Bulmer-Rizzi, 32, were married in the UK in June last year.
While on honeymoon in Adelaide, South Australia, last week, David fell down a staircase at a friend’s home. He cracked his skull, sustained brain damage, and died in hospital.
“I went to bed and David was to follow me shortly. I woke up 45 minutes later and heard this awful noise, and I turned on the light and he was lying at the bottom of the stairs in a bloodbath,” said Marco.
Not only did he have to endure the tragic loss of his husband but Marco also had to face discrimination because their relationship is not recognised in Australia, where same-sex marriage remains illegal.
This meant that he had to get approval for the funeral arrangements from David’s father and the death certificate will state that the deceased man’s marital status was “never married”.
“I was completely overlooked. I wasn’t the next of kin,” said Marco. “Every single question I was asked – whether or not I wanted David cremated, whether or not I wanted David to have a service, or be washed, even the cost of the coffin they were to use – after I gave my answer, David’s father was consulted. It was outright discrimination. If I didn’t get on with my in-laws I don’t know that I would have any rights.”
David father, Nigel Bulmer, agreed, telling Buzzfeed: “It’s degrading. It demeans my son’s memory and denies their relationship. It’s cast them as second-class citizens. No one should ever have to go through what we’ve gone through. We’re at the bottom and somebody has dug a deeper pit.”
The story has renewed calls for the Western Australian Government to amend its laws to recognise overseas same-sex marriages and for the country as a whole to embrace marriage equality.
“It is appalling that the surviving partner in a marriage is denied any legal say in his deceased partner’s affairs or coronial administration,” commented Brian Greig, WA Convenor of the group Australian Marriage Equality (AME).
He welcomed news that South Australian Premier Jay Wetherill had announced that he will move to change that state’s law in response to Marco’s ordeal. Wetherill also offered his apology to the grieving man for the “senseless discrimination.”
Greig argued that until the Federal Parliament passed equal marriage laws across the country, states and territories were being burdened with ad hoc responses resulting in legal inconsistencies across the country.
“We need marriage equality across the whole country, but until then we call on the WA parliament to do its bit in trying to address this discrimination,” he said.