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

In a memo sent to the U.N. Secretariat and obtained by CBS News, the U.S. Mission to the U.N. said that all new applicants who wish to bring a same-sex partner to the U.S. must be married to that partner, despite the fact that the vast majority of U.N. member states do not legalize same-sex marriage.

The State Department said in a letter in July that the move is created to reflect the U.S.'s law on same-sex marriage in its worldwide policies.

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.

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

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

In a call on Tuesday, the State Department said that after the July issuance of the memo, Trump administration representatives explained to diplomats and United Nations officials that they would try to work with individuals to comply with the new rules.

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.

David Pressman, former US ambassador to the U.N. Security Council in the Obama administration, slammed the rule reversal because the U.N.is "composed of probably one of the most diverse workforces of any organization in the world".

The State Department gave affected couples until December 31 to marry, either in the United States or in a third country where same-sex marriage is illegal, and present a valid marriage certificate.

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

Same-sex marriage is legal in only 25 countries, including the United States, according to Human Rights Watch.

Since 2009, heterosexual domestic partners have not been able to get visas. For those same-sex partners already in the USA and now holding a visa, a deadline has been set. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he opposes same-sex marriage, but he has promised to treat all employees with respect. 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 USA diplomats posted there.

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". Homosexual conduct is illegal in 75 countries.

Yet that exception was not offered to United Nations officials.

  • Rogelio Becker