Federal Politics

'Offensive, outdated': Christopher Pyne criticises legal denial of overseas gay marriages

Not recognising overseas same-sex marriages is anachronistic and offensive, government frontbencher Christopher Pyne has said, as he denounced the recent case where a British man's marriage wasn't acknowledged when he died on his honeymoon in Adelaide.

South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill has apologised to British man Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, whose husband David died while the pair were on holidays and weren't allowed to have their marriage recognised on the death certificate.

David and Marco Bulmer-Rizzi were on their honeymoon in Adelaide when David  was killed in a fall.
David and Marco Bulmer-Rizzi were on their honeymoon in Adelaide when David was killed in a fall. Photo: Facebook

On Thursday, Mr Pyne was asked whether it was time to change laws in some state and territories that prevent same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions from being recognised.

"I haven't studied the issue. I did see the story and I agree with Jay Weatherill that that is outdated and anachronistic and I think it's offensive to the man involved, obviously," the South Australian MP told ABC radio. "I agree with him on that."

Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne
Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne Photo: Andrew Meares

The comments from the state's most senior Liberal will fuel momentum for changes to the law around the country, including in South Australia where Mr Weatherill is seeking reform.

Mr Weatherill also promised to issue a new death certificate once reform is achieved. Currently, David Bulmer-Rizzi's death certificate states "never married".


Mr Pyne supports same-sex marriage in Australia and was one of the 33 Coalition MPs who voted for a conscience vote on the issue, defeated by the 66 who opposed it.

Vocal at the time of the party room vote, Mr Pyne said that same-sex couples should be in a "position to have some legal basis for their relationship and that's why I've changed my view."

The pair were on their honeymoon when David died after falling down stairs.
The pair were on their honeymoon when David died after falling down stairs. Photo: Facebook

"South Africa, UK, the US, Ireland, New Zealand, most of the European countries have managed to do this without the sky falling in," he told an audience in Canberra.

"And I think Australia will end up going in this direction."

Mr Bulmer-Rizzi said that he and Mr Weatherill talked for 10 minutes on Wednesday.

"I thank [Mr Weatherill]. I think it's amazing. It's so much further than I ever thought last night when I was wondering what I could do," he said.

"My mind is blown away that the Premier of South Australia called to apologise. It's such an acknowledgment, coming from the top of the state."

The couple, from Sunderland, married in London last June. While same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia, overseas same-sex marriages are recognised in some states, but not in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

"I phoned Marco and on behalf of the South Australian people and government I expressed our condolences for the loss of his husband. I also expressed my sorrow for the way in which he was treated," Mr Weatherill said on Thursday morning.

As well as committing to reform, he said same-sex marriage legalisation at a federal level was essential.

"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 and people at every level behaving towards people that areĀ in marriages of the same sex appropriately," he said.

"This will only be properly dealt with once we have same-sex marriage legislation at the federal level."

He also indicated via social media that he will look into a possible retrospective amendment of David Bulmer-Rizzi's death certificate should laws in the state change.

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