Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Hugo Swire has confirmed that the UK Government will issue internationally recognised ‘next-of-kin’ letters to married British same-sex couples on request.
Reforms proposed by the Minister will allow married same-sex couples to request a letter confirming their legal status in the event of facing legal complications abroad.
The news comes after a British citizen was left in a ‘legal limbo’ while honeymooning in Australia with his new husband – who unexpectedly passed away during the holiday.
Mr Marco Bulmer-Rizzi had to fight for the right to keep husband David’s remains – as the South Australian Government did not recognise their marriage, and David Bulmer-Rizzi was deemed ‘unmarried’ under foreign legislation.
In a publicised letter, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Hugo Swire apologised for the British Government’s ‘lack of support’ for Mr Bulmer-Rizzi.
“Mr Bulmer-Rizzi suggested that consular staff should be able to issue documentation confirming a spouse’s status of next-of-kin,” he said.
“We have now made available to staff new guidance to enable them to issue an official information note that confirms that the UK authorities, including British consulates, will normally view a spouse or civil partner as next-of-kin where the relationship is a same-sex one as much as for opposite-sex couples,”
“There is no guarantee that a foreign authority will take the same view if it does not recognise same-sex marriage, but we hope it will make clear to those authorities our position and support to a British spouse or civil partner.”