Airport Security Confiscates Ashes Of Man’s Husband Because He Wasn’t Deemed Next Of Kin

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.15.43 PM

A British man is speaking out about nearly having his deceased husband’s ashes taken away from him by security officers at a Hong Kong airport earlier this year.

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi’s husband, David, died after falling down a staircase while the couple was on their honeymoon in Australia in January. Because Australia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, David’s death certificate listed him as “never married.” Marco was also refused an official copy of the death certificate.

Related: Why Is An Ohio Hospital Refusing To Release Woman’s Medical Records To Her Wife?

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Marco explains that as he was returning home with his husband’s remains when an airport security officer in Hong Kong noticed the ashes going through the X-ray scanner.

“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.’”

The officer continued to grill Marco.

“She said, ‘Who did you say died?’. I said, ‘My husband. And this is his passport.’ And she said, ‘No. I’m gonna take this [the ashes] away.’”

Without the official death certificate stating he was the next of kin, there was little Marco could do to stop David’s ashes from being confiscated. He watched in horror as the officer tried grabbing the box.

Related: Police Refuse To Investigate Death Of Gay Man Found Naked And Covered In Blood

“I put my hand down [on the box] and said, ‘No, you can’t! I need to see your supervisor,’” he explains. “I felt like I was losing him again. All I wanted was to be able to travel with David’s ashes on me so he wouldn’t have to travel back by himself.”

When the supervisor arrived, she, too, was unsympathetic.

“Again I was asked who the remains were and I said, ‘My husband, David.’ At that point I wanted the world to know that it was my husband. And she asked me, ‘What do you mean your husband?’”

Eventually, Marco was able to convince the supervisor to let him bring David’s ashes back to England, but the incident left him scarred. He says none of this would have happened if he had simply been listed as next of kin on the death certificate.

“They should have given me a next-of-kin letter, just something so that if I had issues with the hospital, in terms of making final decisions, I could have just said, ‘I’m David’s next of kin and this letter is to confirm that.’”

Related: WATCH: This Amazing 92-Year-Old Transgender Vet Is Fighting To Be Recognized As The Widow Of Her Late Husband

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #australia #davidbulmer-rizzi #gay stories and more


  • Christopher Hayward

    Airport security in Hong Kong should have better things to do with their time while working. This is shameful. I feel sorry for this man who not only lost his love but now his ashes.

    • Chris Duffy

      “an airport security officer in Hong Kong”. It wasn’t TSA, though I could totally see them doing something like this.

  • Leonard Woodrow

    It is appalling that such ignorance still pervades in this day and age. What sensible reason could there be for preventing this man taking his partners ashes home, no matter what their opinion on his marriage was.

    Bigoted, ill-educated fools.

  • ingyaom

    So, airport security did NOT confiscate ashes of man’s husband. Headline rewrite?

  • canadalaw

    The airport in Halifax, Nova Scotia did the same thing with me with my mother’s ashes when she died. The actual worker was sympathetic, but her supervisor rushed over and wanted me to open it. The worker was mortified. Finally we worked out a compromise and they allowed me to take the ashes on the plane.

  • Kevin J Desmond

    And people wonder I hate the Chinese as well as other asians

    • Jake Overslaugh

      Seriously what a wretched comment

    • Debbie Klein

      Wow what a terribly close minded thing to say.

  • Jonathan Fisher

    Sad – I feel terrible for everything this poor man has gone through.

  • Kevin Wotipka

    @Kevin J Desmond: “And people wonder I hate the Chinese as well as other asians”

    It’s not that I wonder—it’s just that I don’t want to know, and I don’t care.

  • Bill Crossfield

    our society is so fucked ===sorry that irritates me to no end

  • Gee Rosato

    I would explode like a neutron bomb

  • Invert

    Marco has been through hell lately, poor man. First with the hospital in Aus and now this!

  • Lachkey Whyte

    that is fucking disgusting, airports need to be sued.

  • Sluggo2007

    Typical twat behavior. Just give them any type of title and it goes right to their heads.

  • Bellamy

    This is absurd and I hope he sues the living crap out of them. I keep the ashes for several relatives and a friend, none of whom are “next of kin”, and there is not a single law that says you must be to own ashes.
    But to anyone else out there thinking of flying with ashes of human remains, DO NOT EVER fly with them. They should be shipped. And they must by law be shipped through a funeral home. Just pick a funeral home (preferably the one that did the cremation) and they’ll box it and ship it for a modest shipping fee. I think I paid like $50 for my Grandmother’s ashes to be shipped from California to Florida. And when you receive it, there will be “ownership” papers in the box so that you can file them with the state showing that you have possession of it (or you write what is going to be done with the ashes).
    Bear in mind that, although everyone does it, it is technically ILLEGAL to dump ashes except at sea. That beautiful hilltop or pasture or tree your loved-one liked so much and wanted their ashes scattered there, yeah, totally illegal. Sorry. In most places it’s illegal to even open an hermetically sealed urn of ashes, period. So I wouldn’t report that you intend to scatter the somewhere (unless it is at sea… and there are professional organizations to legally that for you).

  • Chris

    Years ago, I was transporting someone’s ashes and they X-Rayed as pitch black. Airport security wanted to open the sealed box that was stamped by the mortuary. Luckily, I had the death certificate with me and the security officer’s supervisor had just lost her mother the week before. She was slightly more sympathetic than the people in Hong Kong.

    I can only say that going through something like this after losing someone you love can only be described as surreal.

    My sympathy for the surviving spouse. May he, eventually, come to laugh at the weirdness of it all. I know that I do, now.

  • Dansktex

    I am a U.S. citizen. My Danish partner of 20 years died of a stroke in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) eleven years ago. Over and over I have told people how fortunate I was that he died there while we were making an around-the-world trip together. The hospital accepted me as next-of-kin even though we weren’t married. The funeral home cremated his body for me without question. The Danish consul took me into his home for 5 days while I waited to receive his remains and changed our travel plans. The Air Canada employee waived the fee for changing the itinerary on the air ticket. The Danish embassy gave me permission to transport his remains to Denmark. Fortunately, no one in Vancouver or Bangkok where I had to change planes questioned what was in my backpack. It was a very difficult time for me, and, as a gay man who knew that acceptance of my sexual orientation was not common, I appreciate how much easier it was made by those strangers who helped.

Comments are closed.