US Halts Visas for Same-Sex Partners of Diplomats

That means many gay couples would have to come to the USA on a tourist visa to get married before they could return for one of them to work for the U.N. Some couples could also face the decision between getting married so they could stay together in the US and being persecuted back home.

Under the new rule, the USA will refuse diplomatic visas to domestic partners unless they get married by the end of the year (those who do not get married by December 31st will have to leave 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.

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

"This will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or only offer civil unions", the group's deputy United Nations director, Akshaya Kumar, wrote.

Or, as former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power put it in a tweet, the move is "needlessly cruel & bigoted".

Starting October 1, these couples must provide proof of marriage by the end of the year or leave the country within 30 days. But only 12% of United Nations member states allow same-sex marriage.

"Same-sex spouses of USA diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", the US Mission to the United Nations wrote in a memo.

Unmarried couples have until December 31 to submit proof of marriage.

Only 12 percent of the countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage. The heterosexual partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees are also not eligible for US visas.

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.

This presents a variety of problems, especially for diplomats who hail from countries where same-sex marriage and homosexuality is illegal, unnecessarily jeopardizing their safety.

Ms Kumar said there are documented cases of death threats being sent to same-sex partners and their families who decide to marry overseas when the act is illegal in their home country. It's illegal to be gay in around 69 countries, and several still have the death penalty.

According to administration officials, the change directly impacts 105 families, roughly half of whom are connected with worldwide organizations based in the USA such as the World Bank or the global Monetary Fund. "It is an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage".

  • Jon Douglas