New US Policy Tears LGBT UN Staff From Partners

03 October, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York

The new rule will require same-sex couples to be married for their partners to receive a visa, a move that will increasingly distress those couples who are from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal.

Any partners that are planning to come to the US must similarly provide proof of marriage in order to be eligible for the diplomatic visa that allows them to enter the country.

A State Department official said the change, which took effect Monday, was made to "ensure and promote equal treatment" for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

United Nations staff seeking U.S. visas to work at headquarters could theoretically get married in one of the 25 countries that allows same-sex marriage.

The new policy only allows entry into the United States if the partners are legally married. 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.

This means that to acquire a G-4 visa, a nonimmigrant U.S. visa for employees of global organisations and members of their immediate families, partners of same-sex staff will have to marry or face not being able to live with their partners.

Same-sex couples already inside of the United States could go to city hall and get married.

Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said she was also dismayed by the visa policy, calling it "needlessly cruel & bigoted" in a tweet last week.

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Starting October 1, these couples must provide proof of marriage by the end of the year or leave the country within 30 days. To further complicate matters, the vast majority of United Nations member states do not allow gay marriage. "In light of the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the USA extends diplomatic visas only to married spouses of US diplomats".

Straight couples do not risk abuse, prison or death simply for being married.

The new policy reverses a 2009 procedure put in place by then-Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton that allowed same-sex partners to obtain a G-4 or spousal visa.

Currently, 25 countries have recognised same-sex marriage.

This, it said, was "an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage".

But the Human Rights Campaign also noted that getting married in the US still poses dangers back at home for many foreigners. The domestic partner still could get a visa as a family member if the diplomat represents a country where same-sex marriage is illegal, so long as that country recognizes same-sex spouses of US diplomats posted there.

"One Nigerian man (not a United Nations staffer) who married his same-sex partner overseas reported that both he and his family members in Nigeria received death threats as a result".

Most diplomats affected come from countries where same-sex marriage is legal, another official said, without providing numbers.

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