Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Trump Administration: No More Visas for Same-Sex Partners of Foreign Diplomats

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 Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New
Leonard Rios | 02 October, 2018, 21:08

"With this change, the State Department is enforcing parity in the way they recognize opposite-sex partnerships and same-sex partnerships", UN-Globe, a United Nations staff LGBTQ advocacy group, said in a statement. Foreign same-sex partners who wish to remain in the US are advised to submit proof of marriage to the State Department by December 31, 2018, or expect to leave the USA within 30 days of that deadline.

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

Reports suggest there at least 10 United Nations staffers in the U.S. who need to get married by the year's end to secure a visa extension for their partner.

The new policy, which rolls back the work of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and LGBT+ rights champion UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also affects World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff.

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 only exception, however, would be same-sex partners of officials coming from countries that do not recognise same-sex marriage.

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President Donald Trump's administration will stop giving visas to unmarried same-sex partners of United Nations employees, in a move which could endanger lives.

"Same-sex spouses of United States diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", read the announcement obtained by Foreign Policy.

Domestic partners who are already in the United States can get married there.

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. Applying the same standard to same-sex couples will "help ensure and promote equal treatment", a US State Department spokesperson said. Any partners that are planning to come to the USA must similarly provide proof of marriage in order to be eligible for the diplomatic visa that allows them to enter the country.

A new Trump administration visa policy appears to give the partners of same-sex diplomats a hard ultimatum: get married, or get out.

"Needlessly cruel & bigoted", former ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said on Twitter. But officials posted to global organizations, such as the United Nations, do not represent a foreign government, and there are no exceptions to the policy.

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