Australia politician sorry for gay UK widower 'disrespect'

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi (right) on his wedding day with late husband David Image copyright Marco Bulmer-Rizzi
Image caption Marco Bulmer-Rizzi (right) on his wedding day with late husband David

The premier of South Australia state has apologised to a gay British widower after state authorities refused to recognise his marriage.

Briton David Bulmer-Rizzi, 32, died on Saturday after falling down stairs while on honeymoon in Adelaide.

His husband Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, 38, was unable to plan a funeral as the state did not recognise him as next-of-kin.

David's death certificate was also marked "never married", despite his husband's protests.

The men, who lived in Sunderland, legally married in London last year. But South Australia does not currently recognise same-sex marriages, even foreign ones, as legal partnerships.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said he had phoned the widower to express his sorrow over his treatment.

"He 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," Mr Weatherill said.

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

'Almost a good day'

Mr Bulmer-Rizzi said Mr Weatherill had promised to reissue his husband's death certificate with the correct marriage status.

Image copyright Marco Bulmer-Rizzi
Image caption The couple were honeymooning in Australia

"It's almost a good day - if it weren't for everything else," he told Buzzfeed.

"I don't know if David would even believe it. The fact that through him maybe this is never going to happen to somebody else is such a good thing."

Getting married in Australia

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Australia's Marriage Act specifies marriage as a union between a man and a woman
  • Opinion polls taken over the past year show between 60% and 72% of Australians support gay marriage
  • Officially, the ruling Liberal-National coalition does not support gay marriage
  • Three states - Tasmania, NSW and Queensland - recognise overseas same-sex marriages as state civil partnerships and Victoria is expected to follow, the Australian Marriage Equality group says

Mr Weatherill called upon the 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."

The sentiment was echoed by gay rights groups.

"I urge the federal government to follow South Australia's lead and ensure there is no discrimination against same-sex couples married overseas, be they travellers like Marco and David or Australian residents," Australian Marriage Equality's Rodney Croome said in a statement.

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