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British widow wins right to have marriage recognised on partner’s death certificate

By Troy Nankervis

The British High Commission has informed the widow of a British man who died while in Australia his marriage is to be formally recognised on his partner’s death certificate.

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi was on his honeymoon when his husband David Bulmer-Rizzi passed away suddenly last Saturday (January 16) in South Australia, after falling down a flight on stairs and hitting his head.

As same-sex marriage is not legally recognised in Australia, David’s death certificate was marked “never married”, and all subsequent funeral arrangements bypassed Marco and were passed onto David’s father, who under Australian law was considered the legal next-of-kin.


Following outcry from David’s family, marriage equality activists and the general public, Marco and the family of the deceased have been informed that the British High Commission and Australian government have been working together to resolve the issue, ITV reports.

“In this exceptional case, we have now put in place a process to issue a death registration quickly once an application is received,” a British High Commission spokesperson told the Guardian.

South Australian state premier Jay Weatherill also phoned Marco to extend a personal apology on behalf of the government, the BBC reports.

“He [Marco] told me that in a range of ways he felt disrespected by a number of authorities that he was associated with, not all government some of them in government, and I expressed my apology for that behaviour,” said Weatherill.

“I also committed myself to putting before the South Australian Parliament measures that would prevent this from happening again.”


In an emotional Facebook post, Marco confirmed the changes were taking place.

“I have just been told by the British consulate that the UK Government has recognised this gap in policy and that from today on, all same sex couples, starting with myself and David, that are facing the same challenge, will be able to register the death of their loved one at the Embassy in Australia (and the other couple of countries where the same problem exists),” he wrote.

“As with the standard UK Death Certificate, the Consular Certificate of Death will not state the martial status.

“But even better, and all I have ever wanted, it will show my name as the applicant and my relationship to David as his husband. I am getting so emotional just thinking of how much change we have enabled and the support has been incredible. Please continue to post the articles, please keep the momentum for change going.”



Weatherill has since called upon the Australian federal government to introduce legislation legalising gay marriage. “Ultimately this is about recognition of same sex marriage and there are so many things that flow from that such as basic acceptance in our community,” he said.

“This will only be properly dealt with once we have same-sex marriage legislation at the Federal level.”