The Trump administration has started denying visas to the partners of same-sex diplomats unless they are married. Most countries do not have marriage equality but the policy will apply even if same-sex marriages are illegal in the diplomat’s home country.
Couples will be required to get married by the end of the year or diplomat’s partners will be deported. The restriction applies to both diplomats and United Nations employees.
The United States issues diplomatic visas for the spouses of US diplomats.
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“Same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses,” the US Mission to the UN wrote in a memo. “Consistent with [State] Department policy, partners accompanying members of permanent missions or seeking to join the same must generally be married in order to be eligible” for a visa.
Former UN ambassador Samantha Power blasted the decision on Twitter, calling the move “needlessly cruel and bigoted.”
While the couples have until January 1 to get married – and could do so in the United States – they could be arrested and prosecuted when they return home if homosexuality is illegal there.
The department says it will allow “limited exceptions” if the home country’s government provides documentation that same-sex marriage is illegal in the country.
At least ten United Nations employees would need to get married to have their partner’s visas extended.