A gay British man found himself heartbroken for a second time after airport staff confiscated the ashes of his late husband that he was carrying, refusing him his rights as the lawful spouse of the deceased.
Daily Mail reports:
Marco Bulmer-Rizzi was trying to bring the remains of his husband David back to the UK from Australia, where he died after falling down stairs and cracking his skull at the end of their dream holiday, six months after the couple’s June wedding.
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But local laws meant the devastated newly-wed was left to deal not only with his grief but also the problem of being in a country which did not recognise the marriage as legal, nor his standing as next-of-kin to David.
Because of the law, Australian authorities refused to name him as husband on the death certificate – effectively cutting him out of all funeral arrangements, and meaning all arrangements had to be approved by his new father-in-law.
But even as he returned home to the UK, his nightmare was not over.
Staff at Hong Kong airport spotted the ashes as they passed through the X-ray machine, and demanded to know what they were – and why he had them.
Marco, of Sunderland, was already aware there may be a problem, because the death certificate did not list him as next-of-kin, and because Hong Kong, like Australia, does not recognise same-sex marriage.
As a result, the ashes were confiscated by the security guards.
‘I felt like I was losing him again,’ he told BuzzFeed.
‘All I wanted was to be able to travel with David’s ashes on me so he wouldn’t have to travel back by himself.’
Eventually an official overruled the guards, and Marco was allowed to carry on his journey home.
However, the experience has left him even more angry and questioning why the British government was not prepared for such a circumstance.
‘They [the British consulate] should have understood and stepped in,’ he told Buzzfeed.
‘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 is to confirm that’.’
The matter caused a political row in Australia with the Greens calling on the federal government to recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas.
‘It’s 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,’ Senator Robert Simms said.
Mr Bulmer-Rizzi launched acampaign to change the Australian laws and has called on UK officials to intervene.
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