Thursday, 18 October, 2018

U.S. will not grant diplomatic visas to same-sex partners

Samantha Power Samantha
Lisa Bryan | 03 October, 2018, 10:49

A Trump administration policy that took effect on Monday says that visas will not be issued to same sex partners of foreign diplomats unless they are married.

Heterosexual couples must now be married to obtain the G-4 visa.

"The problem with the new policy is that it doesn't take into consideration the fact that LGBTI people still face a very challenging global environment", United Nations human rights official Fabrice Houdart told NBC News.

The US Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that the Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, and internal State Department guidelines have changed to reflect that, officials said. But that government would have to provide documentation proving that same-sex marriage was illegal and commit to accepting same-sex partners of USA diplomats.

Samantha Power, a former United States ambassador to the UN, said she was also dismayed by the visa policy, calling it "needlessly cruel & bigoted" in a tweet last week.

"Requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the awful discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries".

Same-sex couples already inside of the United States could go to city hall and get married.

It was detailed in a memo circulated to employees at the United Nations' headquarters in NY last month.


State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to address the policy at her regular briefing with reporters Tuesday.

The memo on the policy change, dated July 12, updates an earlier diplomatic note concerning the definition of family members.

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

US officials argued the change would promote equality between same-sex and heterosexual couples, who are also required to be legally married to receive diplomatic visas, and promote same-sex marriage globally.

Heterosexual domestic partners of foreign diplomats are also not eligible for USA visas, a State Department spokesperson explained, and the new policy would "ensure and promote equal treatment", according to ABC News.

"But the Trump administration has cynically used the expansion of equality in the U.S.to target unmarried United Nations same-sex couples", Schlesinger said.

An exception in the policy applies for same-sex partners of diplomats coming from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, but do accredit same sex spouses of American diplomats.

Akshaya Kumar, the Deputy UN Director of Human Rights Watch, wrote that the change "will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples". "But they could potentially be exposed to prosecution if they return to a country that criminalises homosexuality or same-sex marriages". Twenty-six countries allow gay marriage, according to a 2017 tally by the Pew Research Center.

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