Diplomats' same-sex partners denied USA visas

APPresident Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves a rally Monday Oct. 1 2018 in Johnson City Tenn

Diplomats can still obtain visas for their partners if they get married, including if they do so while in the United States.

Alfonso Nam, president of UN-GLOBE, a group that advocates on behalf of the U.N.'s LGBTI employees, told The Washington Blade that the new rule would "have a chilling effect on all couples in the United States under a U.N. -sponsored visa who are in legal unions other than marriage".

According to Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations has attempted to portray the policy update as an alignment with the U.S.'s current marriage equality laws.

"Those not yet in the country will need to show they're married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at the United Nations headquarters or family separation", Akshaya Kumar of Human Rights Watch said in a blog post.

They can conduct a same-sex marriage overseas, but face being imprisoned in some countries, travel alone, or break up with their partner.

Married same-sex spouses - like opposite-sex spouses - will still be eligible to enter the country, but it remains illegal in most countries around the world for same-sex couples to Wednesday.

Or, as former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power put it in a tweet, the move is "needlessly cruel & bigoted". If they don't, their spouse will be expected to leave the country in 30 days.

"Same-sex spouses of USA diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", the US mission wrote in a July 12 note to United Nations -based delegations.

The organization recommended that partners living in New York City "consider getting married in City Hall" before December 31.

Previously, under a 2009 policy implemented by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, same-sex partners were granted a spousal (G-4) visa.

Only 12 percent of the countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage.

Individuals will be eligible for "limited exceptions" if they can prove they are from countries that outlaw same-sex partners, said Stephen Schlesinger, a fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank.

Critics said the policy could pose a problem in countries that do not recognize same-sex marriages.

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

"The change in policy ensures consistent treatment between opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners by requiring that same-sex partners, like opposite-sex partners, must marry to qualify for derivative diplomatic visas", the official said.

"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", she said.

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