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US ends diplomatic visas for UN same-sex partners

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American and Pride flags held up

The US has announced it will deny diplomatic visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees.

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

It is a reversal of rules introduced in 2009.

Currently, 25 countries have recognised same-sex marriage. Homosexuality remains illegal in 71 countries.

The new Trump administration policy update was circulated in a United Nations (UN) memo.

The memo states: “As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status.”

G-4 visas are granted to employees of international organisations and their immediate families.

According to the State Department, “only a relationship legally considered to be a marriage in the jurisdiction where it took place establishes eligibility as a spouse for immigration purposes”.

The stage is set for a rally in support of same sex marriage with balloon letters reading YES and rainbow balloons
Image captionSame-sex marriage remains unrecognised or illegal across much of the world

In a 12 July note to the UN, the US Mission to the UN lauded the change as a step towards equality, saying “same-sex spouses of US diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses”, US media report.

But critics have called the move unfair to homosexual partners, given a large number of countries do not recognise same-sex marriage.

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

“Couples already inside of the United States could go to city hall and get married. But they could potentially be exposed to prosecution if they return to a country that criminalises homosexuality or same-sex marriages.”

After the end of this year, unmarried same-sex partners of diplomats and UN employees will be expected to leave the US within 30 days if they remain unmarried and without a visa status change.

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

They will be granted a diplomatic visa if the government which sends them to work in their embassies in the US grants the same privileges to same-sex partners of US officials sent to that country.

A senior State Department official told the BBC that they are concerned about the human rights implications of the change and are willing to discuss individual concerns.

The new policy is a reversal of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2009 decision to allow same-sex domestic partners of foreign officials diplomatic visas.

State Department officials say there are around 105 families total that could be affected by the policy.

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, there are at least 10 UN employees in the US with same-sex domestic partners who will need to be married by next year in order to maintain their partner’s visa.

Akshaya Kumar, the Deputy UN Director of Human Rights Watch, wrote that the change “will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples”.

“The US government should recognise, as it had for almost nine years until today, that requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the terrible discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries, and should be immediately reversed.”

There are currently 71 countries that criminalise same-sex relations, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Several others have some form of legal restriction, and same-sex relationships can carry the death penalty in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria.

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Breaking News:Yoruba Freedom Fighter, Sunday Igboho Arrested in Cotonou

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Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has been arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic by security operatives in the West African country.

Igboho was arrested Monday night after fleeing Nigeria to evade arrest by Nigeria’s secret police.

A source privy to his departure from Nigeria said he had perfected plans to secretly escape from Nigeria through Cotonou and was heading to Germany.

He was, however, nabbed by security operatives in the neighboring country.

Speaking with SaharaReporters, a source privy to the incident, said, “Sunday Igboho has been arrested in Cotonou. He was arrested about an hour ago.

“He was supposed to travel to Germany through Cotonou this night. He wanted to leave Africa through Cotonou. He was arrested by security operatives in Cotonou.

“They are planning to bring him back to Nigeria.”

Recall that the Department of State Services had declared Igboho wanted after its operatives carried out a bloody midnight raid on his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

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Popular Nigerian Singer, Sound Sultan dies at 44

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Singer, Olanrewaju Fasasi aka Sound Sultan, has died. A statement released by his family says he died on July 11 after a long battle with throat cancer.

The singer is survived by his wife and three children.

 

The statement reads;

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Multi-talented veteran singer, rapper, songwriter, Onlanrewaju Fasasi a.k.a Sound Sultan.

Too sad! Singer, Sound Sultan, dies at 44

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#EndSARS: Court strikes out suit against Sam Adeyemi, Davido, Falz, BurnaBoy, Aisha Yesufu and others

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Justice Bello Jawu of a High Court sitting in Abuja has struck out a suit filed by one Kenechukwu Okeke, a human rights activist, against Davido, Aisha Yesufu, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, and 47 other celebrities and activists over their activities during the October 2020 #EndSARS protests.

The judge in a ruling delivered on Friday, July 2, also restrained the Nigeria Police Force and Okeke from taking any steps to prosecute the individuals for their role played during the #EndSARS protest.

Okeke had in November 2020 filed criminal proceedings before a magistrate court in Abuja against the 50 persons over claims they promoted the October 2020 #EndSARS protests.

In the suit, he alleged that the defendants acted in a manner “with intent to assist in the promotion of an unlawful assembly under the guise or composition of #EndSARS

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