The United States will no longer give same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and United Nations staff visas to live in the country, under a new policy that took effect this week. Married same-sex spouses – like opposite-sex spouses – will still be eligible to enter the country, but it remains illegal in most countries around
The United States will no longer give same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and United Nations staff visas to live in the country, under a new policy that took effect this week.
Married same-sex spouses – like opposite-sex spouses – will still be eligible to enter the country, but it remains illegal in most countries around the world for same-sex couples to wed.
A memo to staff at the UN headquarters in New York spells out the new policy, which took effect Monday, saying that couples must be married to qualify for visas.
Since 2009, heterosexual domestic partners have not been able to get visas. But then secretary of state Hillary Clinton allowed same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and foreign staff to accompany their partners to the United States.
“Needlessly cruel & bigoted,” former ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said on Twitter. “State Dept will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.”
Domestic partners who are already in the United States can get married there. But couples who do that could face punishment in their homes countries where homosexuality is illegal, advocates say.
Those who don’t submit proof of marriage by 31 December will be required to leave the country within 30 days, the memo says. And unmarried partners who aren’t yet in the United States will not be eligible for visas to move there.
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Same-sex marriage is legal in only 25 countries, including the United States, according to Human Rights Watch. Homosexual conduct is illegal in 75 countries.
“This will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or only offer civil unions,” the group’s deputy UN director, Akshaya Kumar, wrote.
“The US government should recognize, as it had for almost nine years until today, that requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the terrible discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries, and should be immediately reversed.”
An exception in the policy applies for same-sex partners of diplomats coming from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, but do accredit same sex spouses of American diplomats. That exception will only apply to diplomats, not to employees of the UN and other international organizations.
“The change in policy ensures consistent treatment between opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners by requiring that same-sex partners, like opposite-sex partners, must marry to qualify for derivative diplomatic visas,” a state department official told CNN.