A British man was nearly unable to fly home with his husband's ashes because he was not officially named the next of kin.
David Bulmer-Rizzi fell down a flight of stairs during his Australian honeymoon with Marco Bulmer-Rizzi (on the photo's lefthand side) and died shortly after, BuzzFeed reports.
Marco, 38, intended to bring the cremated remains of his husband to David's hometown of Sunderland, England.
He was about to board a connecting flight in Hong Kong on January 22, but airport security stopped him after the ashes went through the X-ray machine.
Marco told BuzzFeed News,
[A security officer] wanted to open the box. And I said, 'These are human remains. It's my husband. My husband died while we were in Australia.' She just looked at me and said, 'I need to take this away.'
Marco presented David's passport, but he had no paperwork to confirm he and David were legally married. And, since same-sex marriage is not recognized in Australia, David's death certificate said nothing of his relationship with Marco. A panic-stricken Marco asked to see the guard's supervisor, who allegedly replied,
What do you mean your 'husband'?
Marco begged the supervisor to let him travel with the ashes and produced a letter from the funeral home stating David had been cremated.
After examining the passport and letter, the supervisor eventually allowed Marco to carry the ashes back to England.
Marco believes the “meltdown” he had when the guard first stopped him could have been avoided had the British consulate provided the documentation he requested before leaving Australia.
Once Marco was told his comatose husband was near death, he called the British consulate in Melbourne.
Marco recalled the conversation, saying,
I explained to them that I was really worried about traveling with David's remains because I knew I might end up going through another country claiming to be his husband, possibly where same-sex marriage wasn't even recognized, and I didn't have any official documents [stating our relationship]. I specifically asked the consulate if they could give me anything and they said no.
That being the case, David's father had to approve of any and all final arrangements.
Marco called for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office to educate embassy and consulate staff about what to do should another same-sex couple be stuck in a similar situation.
Thanks to the publicity of Marco's story, the premier of South Australia reportedly promised to pass a law in a matter of months to recognize overseas same-sex marriages.
Marco also received an interim death certificate that formally declares he was married to David.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office told BuzzFeed a member of its staff would gladly meet with Marco to solve the documentation problems he raised.