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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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Hundreds of permanent voters card discovered by hunters in Bayelsa

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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

Said :

“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

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INEC rules out another extension of voter registration

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled out another extension of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

The INEC National Commissioner in charge of Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States, Chief Ken Okeagu, stated this at a media briefing on Wednesday in Abakaliki.

The REC said he had visited the commission’s local government area offices to assess the progress so far recorded in the exercise.

He expressed satisfaction with the turnout of prospective voters.

He said: “I’m quite impressed. The arrangement is good and people are turning out.

“So far, we don’t have challenges other than the number of people that have been coming out to register.

“I have gone round some of the centres and we are discussing how to take care of the surge.

“Some of the arrangements are going to be internal and we are looking basically at getting more machines to attend to people.

“We are not going to extend again.

“We have done it once for one month and we are not going to extend again.

“Those who have yet to register should go and get registered.

 

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Man exposes the condition of Psquare’s village house 

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A video making the rounds on social media captures the moment an unidentified man showed off P-square’s alleged village mansion.

 

 

 

 

 

In the viral clip, the man noted that the duo who are known for their hit track ‘Do Me’ have such a dilapidated house in the village.

Watch the video below:

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