Earlier this year, Australia was gripped and saddened by the story of Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, a 32-year-old British man whose husband David Bulmer-Rizzi, 38, died in a freak accident while the pair were in visiting South Australia on their honeymoon.
Although the pair were legally married in the UK, their marriage was not recognised in SA and therefore Marco was not considered David’s next-of-kin, meaning Marco had to clear all hospital and funeral arrangements with David’s father.
In a new interview with BuzzFeed News, he’s now revealed that airport officials in Hong Kong confiscated David’s ashes because – again – he wasn’t considered to be David’s next-of-kin.
“I was taken to one side and she said, ‘What’s in this box?’ She wanted to open the box. And I said, ‘These are human remains. It’s my husband. My husband died while we were in Australia. She just looked at me and said, ‘I need to take this away.’”
Bulmer-Rizzi says he had a “meltdown” when they were gone: “I felt like I was losing him again.”
The ashes were eventually returned to him and he continued on his journey, but he’s speaking out now to highlight the lack of support systems in place for LGBT spouses.
Despite contacting the British consulate in Melbourne for advice and help, he received nothing. They just had no idea how to go about helping him, and passed him off by saying they were waiting for advice from London.
“They should have given me a next-of-kin letter, just something so that if I had issues with the hospital, in terms of making final decisions, I could have just said, ‘I’m David’s next-of-kin and this letter confirms that.”
The Foreign Office has now closed the loophole that prevented Brits from getting UK-style death certificates, but Marco is calling on them to introduce a number of services to better assist LGBT people who find themselves in similar circumstances.
Source: BuzzFeed News.