Monday 22 October, 2018
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US begins denying visas to unmarried same-sex partners of diplomats

Washington, Oct 2 (IANS) US President Donald Trump’s administration has begun denying visas to unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and UN employees, the media reported.

According to a report in Foreign Policy magazine on Monday, the policy affected same-sex partners of diplomats and staffers working at the UN global headquarters in New York. The partner must show proof of marriage by December 31 or leave the country within 30 days.

The majority of 193 UN member countries do not legalize same-sex marriage, meaning diplomats face a tough choice.

The report said the new policy meant at least 10 unmarried UN employees currently in the US will have to get married in order for their partners’ visas to be extended.

Since the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the US policy has dictated that diplomatic visas are only extended to married spouses.

The US mission to the UN reportedly notified couples of the decision in July and it took effect on Monday, according to the report.

“Same-sex spouses of US diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses,” read the announcement obtained by Foreign Policy.

“Consistent with the (State) Department policy, partners accompanying members of permanent missions or seeking to join the same must generally be married in order to be eligible for a diplomatic visa,” it said.

Former US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power blasted the move as “needlessly cruel and bigoted”.

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 legalized same-sex marriages.

Diplomats would be eligible for “limited exceptions” under the Trump administration’s policy if they can prove they are from countries that outlaw same-sex partners, the report said. That exception, however, reportedly does not extend to UN officials.

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