UK Government to Issue Letters to Same-Sex Couples Travelling Abroad

The UK Government will issue next-of-kin letters for married British same-sex couples travelling overseas.

Gay marriage has been legal in England, Wales and Scotland since March 2014. 

Gay marriage rights, however, are harder to transfer across international borders. 

Heterosexual marriage is universal same-sex marriage isn't. 

For example, 

Homosexuality is illegal in 77 countries. 

Gay marriage is legal in 22.

Marco, his husband, was devastated, but his heartache didn’t end there.

Because Australia does not allow gay marriage, officials told Marco that they couldn’t recognise his marriage to David. 

The death certificate, therefore, concluded that David was “unmarried” when he died.

Being “unmarried” meant that Marco was unable to make decisions about David’s end-of-life care, because he wasn’t next-of-kin. It fell to his father-in-law, in England.  

There was also a later incident at Hong Kong Airport where officials confiscated David’s ashes, because, again, Marco was not listed as next-of-kin.

Marco and David were married in the UK. If David had have died at home, then Marco would have been afforded full rights both in the decision making and registration of his husband’s death, but in Australia this wasn't the case.

The UK Government admits that there’s no guarantee that a letter will be enough. It hopes, however, that it will encourage countries to render all the assistance they can to UK couples in difficulty abroad.

Until same-sex marriage is more widespread around the world, then it's probably the best they can do. Until then, we can expect to here more horror stories like Marco's.

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