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”.
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”.
Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.
Breaking: From a UN source this AM: a message from the staff union announcing that the us mission will no longer give g4 visas to same sex unmarried couples. Possible backlash?
“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 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.
Over 320 Permanent Voters Cards were dumped inside an uncompleted building along the AIT/Elebele road in Yenogoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The hunters handed over the PVCs to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, July 27, in Yenagoa, the state capital. the Commandant of the association, Moses Okano
“We have been combing the bushes in the nooks and crannies because of the happening we have been hearing in the bushes. We started from Azikoro and went through Elebele,” he said
In the course of our going round, we ran into an uncompleted building in the bush and we heard some noise with our usual way of operation to ascertain those who were there, the people sighting us started to jump out of the windows of the uncompleted building.
So, we were able to penetrate the building and what we saw were the abandoned voters’ cards. So knowing full well that these are Federal Government property and the only authority empowered or authorised by law to keep custody of these items is INEC, we have to recover them and decided to bring it to the Commission.” he said