Trump administration to deny visas to same-sex partners of U.N

by Garry Watts October 3, 2018, 1:47
Trump administration to deny visas to same-sex partners of U.N

The United States is denying visas to the partners of more than 100 gay diplomats unless they get married, officials said on Tuesday.

But a State Department spokesperson explained that the policy shift is designed "to help ensure and promote equal treatment", NBC News reports.

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations portrayed the decision-which foreign diplomats fear will increase hardships for same-sex couples in countries that don't recognize same-sex marriage-as an effort to bring its global visa practices in line with current U.S. policy. Without a legal marriage, and thus without a visa, such partners face the threat of deportation; but activists point out that if they get legally married to stay in the US, they could also face persecution upon returning to their home country.

The same was not true of same-sex couples, for whom a domestic partnership was enough for both to receive visas.

Alfonso Nam, the President of UN Globe, a UN LGBTI staff advocacy organization, told Foreign Policy that same-sex couples were at risk of prosecution if they return to a country that criminalizes homosexuality or has not legalised same-sex marriages.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the policy change "cruel, utterly unnecessary" and warned it could open US diplomats to retaliation. If they don't, their spouse will be expected to leave the country in 30 days.

Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, just 25 countries have legalised same-sex marriage.

The US mission to the United Nations said the new requirement standardises its worldwide visa practices, following the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalising same-sex marriage.

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"Requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the awful discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries".

Since 2009, heterosexual domestic partners have not been able to get visas.

Akshaya Kumar said many United Nations staffers come from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal, and in some, punished by canning and prison.

The department says it will allow "limited exceptions" if the home country's government provides documentation that same-sex marriage is illegal in the country.

Now, diplomats and officials at these organizations who are in same-sex relationships will face the choice between getting married and separating.

Richard V. Gowan, a senior fellow at U.N. University, told CBS News he hopes the City of NY "will facilitate the marriages of any US employees or diplomats who want to avoid these penalties".

"Requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the awful discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries", she wrote in a statement. In at least 73 countries same-sex sex is illegal.

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