Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, United Nations employees

Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, United Nations employees

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

Those who don't submit proof of marriage by 31 December will be required to leave the country within 30 days, the memo says.

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

The new visa regulations quickly garnered criticism for seemingly coercing same-sex couples to enter into a marriage that could earn them prison time back home.

Foreign Policy magazine, which first reported the story, estimated that there are at least 10 current United Nations employees who would need to get married in order to get their partners' visas renewed.

Should a same-sex couple from, say, for example, Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, or Egypt marry in the US, upon returning home they could be arrested.

"The problem with the new policy is that it doesn't take into consideration the fact that LGBTI people still face a very challenging global environment", United Nations human rights official Fabrice Houdart told NBC News.

"Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses", the State Department said on its website.

Human Rights Watch said it is concerned the policy will "have an insidious impact" on same-sex partners from countries that criminalise same-sex marriages.

The change went into effect on Monday, giving partners now in the USA until 31 December to leave, get married or otherwise change their visa.

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A new U.S. government policy may make it impossible for some LGBT UN staff to live together with their partners in the United States.

"Same-sex spouses of USA diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", the note said.

The change was implemented Monday, and will also apply to diplomats from countries where homosexuality is criminalized, leaving them few options.

A European diplomat based in NY told SBS News on Tuesday: "It's tough enough being a diplomat with a same-sex partner, there are relatively few countries who will give a visa to your spouse or let them work".

A State Department spokesperson told NBC News that the government's intention was "to help ensure and promote equal treatment" between straight and same-sex couples.

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in NY.

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power decried the policy, calling it "needlessly cruel and bigoted".

Deputy UN director Ms Kumar said: "The US government should recognise, as it had for nearly nine years until today, that requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy".

The change poses a problem for some same-sex couples who are not legally allowed to marry in their home country.

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