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"Ashamed" Weatherill apologises to widower for death certificate snub


UPDATED: Premier Jay Weatherill has apologised to the bereaved widower of a British man who died in a freak accident while honeymooning in Adelaide, after state authorities refused to recognise the same-sex couple’s marital status.

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David Bulmer-Rizzi’s death certificate was stamped “Never Married”, despite the fact he legally wed his partner Marco in the UK last year.

The incident garnered international headlines, prompting Weatherill to express his “deep shame” that such an event occurred in South Australia.

“I rang [Marco] last night, I expressed my condolences and just apologised for what he’d experienced,” Weatherill told InDaily.

The Premier said Marco had told him “his experience with the health system and organ donation people was really positive”, but that dealing with police was “a bit of an issue … because he kept getting referred to as [David’s] partner, and they refused to acknowledge he was his husband”.

He said officers later “corrected” their approach.

Marco told Weatherill he had subsequent problems dealing with the funeral director, “who refused basically to take instruction from him and everything had to be double-checked with what was regarded as [David’s next of kin]”.

“The other problem was with Births, Deaths and Marriages, with the death certificate, which carries the inscription ‘Never Married’,” Weatherill said.

“I think to some degree they’re constrained by the law, and that raises the question of legislative change.”

A monstrous injustice that a man donating his own organs to save SA lives is treated with this level of disrespect

Weatherill said contrary to reports, South Australia has the same laws as all other states in legally refusing to recognise overseas same-sex marriages of non-citizens, although some states do recognise the marital status of Australian citizens married overseas.

“It may be there’s other reasons why this wouldn’t have happened in NSW, it may be there’s more discretion for the registrar to do something less offensive than write ‘never married’,” he said.

“But the suggestion that recognition of overseas marriage would have remedied this is not strictly accurate.”

The Premier insists that’s “not to say it can’t be remedied relatively simply”, calling on state parliament to “deal with it quickly and make sure it doesn’t happen for anyone else”.

However, despite reports he had given Marco a guarantee of a revised death certificate, the Premier says he doesn’t yet know how “something could be done for this particular case”.

“I said I didn’t know the answer,” he recalled.

“There might be lots of options… I’m yet to have advice.

“But I said I was confident we’d find a way of resolving it… for this particular family.”

The British High Commissioner to Australia tweeted on the matter this afternoon:

Weatherill said the sad case was “another example of issues which can be thrown up when you don’t have proper recognition of same-sex marriage”.

“For people who say this is merely symbolic, this is an example of the kind of hurt it can cause when people are disrespected,” he said.

“What a monstrous injustice, that a man who’s donating his own organs to potentially save the lives of South Australians is treated with this level of disrespect, in South Australia, because of archaic, out-of-date laws.”

A Police spokesman said SAPOL had “no comment in relation to this matter”.

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