The widow of a man who died during his Australian honeymoon says his husband’s ashes were confiscated by officials at Hong Kong airport.
Marco Bulmer Rizzi lost his husband David in a tragic accident in Adelaide in January this year, and because same-sex marriage is not officially recognized in Australia, the British widow was provided with a death certificate that read “never married”.
Marco intended to bring the cremated remains of his significant other to the couple’s home country of England, but he said in an interview with Buzzfeed that airport security in Hong Kong stopped him after David’s ashes were x-rayed.
“I was taken to one side and she said, ‘What’s in this box?’” he said. “She wanted to open the box. And I said, “These are human remains. It’s my husband. My husband died while we were in Australia.’”
As Marco did not have a marriage license nor a death certificate proving his legal claims on the remains, he could only present his husband’s passport to the airport security officer.
“She just looked at me and said, ‘I need to take this away,’” he recalled.
“She said, ‘Who did you say died?’ And I said, ‘My husband. And this is his passport.’ And she said, ‘No. I’m gonna take [the ashes] away.’”
Eventually, Marco was allowed to fly back to England with his husband’s remains. He said he was very disappointed with the UK Foreign Office.
“I explained to them that I was really worried about travelling 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,” he said.
“I specifically asked the consulate if they could give me anything and they said no.”
“The government could have simply issued me a letter saying I was David’s next of kin. My government should step up.”
A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office told Buzzfeed they would happily meet with Marco, and said new processes for death certificates had been put in place as a result of David’s death.
In February, David’s ashes were scattered in his hometown Houghton-le-Spring in north east England. Marco posted a photo of the occasion to Facebook, writing: “I am not grateful for many things of late, but I am grateful for having you.”