Buzzfeed UK reports that Briton David Bulmer-Rizzi, 32, died in an Adelaide hospital after a freak accident while honeymooning in SA with his husband Marco, 38.
He had fallen down a staircase at the home of friends with whom the couple was staying, cracking his skull.
A day later – last Friday – he was confirmed as brain-dead.
Both David and Marco are citizens of Britain, where same-sex marriage is legal. The Sunderland pair was married in June last year in south London, before a full ceremony in Santorini, Greece. They arrived in Australia in December for their honeymoon, with Adelaide their last stop.
However, because same-sex marriage remains unrecognised in Australia, David’s death certificate carried the status: “Never married”.
Further, Marco was sidelined from any decisions around his husband’s death, with his father-in-law Nigel Bulmer – who jetted in from England to be by his son’s side – instead recognised as David’s next-of-kin.
“I was completely overlooked,” Marco Bulmer-Rizzi told Buzzfeed UK.
“I wasn’t the next of kin. 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.”
This man has been treated in a cruel and humiliating way.
Marco said that “when the funeral director came, that’s when I was told that because Australia doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage… [the death certificate] will say ‘never married’”.
“I asked at that point whether it was possible to say nothing [about his marital status], and I was told, ‘No, that’s not one of the drop down options on the computer’… This was confirmed by email because we complained afterwards.”
He said the British consulate told him “legislation differs from state to state, and South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory do not recognise overseas same-sex marriage and as such when registering death the local authority cannot state the deceased as married”.
Asked on Twitter by a sympathiser what would be done, Premier Jay Weatherill today tweeted back:
@87cks @MarkDiStef legislation is being prepared to be out before the sa parliament this year
— JayWeatherill (@JayWeatherill) January 19, 2016
In a subsequent statement to InDaily, Weatherill said Bulmer-Rizzi’s ordeal was “another example of how senseless discrimination of sexual orientation can cause pain and hurt”.
“We introduced an initial Bill to the Parliament last year to begin the removal of discrimination from South Australian legislation,” Weatherill said.
“We will introduce a further raft of legislation to the Parliament this year that will grapple with the more complex issues such as this.”
Rainbow Labor SA called on the Attorney-General John Rau to consider intervening to ensure Marco Bulmer-Rizzi is recognised on David’s death certificate.
“Marco’s treatment highlights the impact of continuing discrimination in Australia’s Marriage Act,” said Rainbow Labor SA convenor Tom Mooney.
“Rainbow Labor is working within the Labor Party to expedite the passage of legislation to remove remaining discrimination in SA law… we now call on the Attorney-General to consider the capacity of the state to reform legislation that tragically discriminates against LGBTI couples who have been lawfully married overseas.”
Greens LGBT spokesperson Robert Simms told InDaily the situation was “very disturbing”.
“It’s an example why we need to have the federal parliament intervene, to recognise same-sex marriages overseas,” he said.
“This man has been treated in a cruel and humiliating way.”
He said he hoped “compassion and common sense would come into play here” and said he would contact Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop to find out if anything would be done for Bulmer-Rizzi.
“We currently have a situation where overseas same-sex marriages are recognised in three states but not in others,” Simms said.
“We have to remedy this complex web of relationship laws so that married couples receive the acknowledgement they deserve.”
David Bulmer-Rizzi’s father, Nigel Bulmer, told Buzzfeed the treatment was “degrading”.
“It demeans my son’s memory and denies their relationship,” he said.
“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.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the Bulmer-Rizzi’s treatment had tarnished Australia’s international reputation.
AME South Australian Convener, Harley Schumann, said the organisation would lobby the South Australian Government for swift legislative change to recognise overseas same-sex marriages.
“Most South Australians would find it appalling that our law has failed to recognise the love and commitment in David and Marco’s relationship,” Schumann said.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.