Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, United Nations employees

The U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok Russia is seen on Dec. 11 2017

Under the State Department's new requirements, the USA will only recognise marriages, rather than same-sex partnerships, when granting diplomatic visas to partners.

Samantha Power, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, called the new policy "needlessly cruel & bigoted".

The policy gives couples until the end of the year to get married.

In a call on Tuesday, the State Department said that after the July issuance of the memo, Trump administration representatives explained to diplomats and United Nations officials that they would try to work with individuals to comply with the new rules. "As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners ... seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change in such status". Those who do not will have to seek a change of visa status or leave the country to seek a new visa overseas.

Human Rights Watch said it is concerned the policy will "have an insidious impact" on same-sex partners from countries that criminalise same-sex marriages. Without a legal marriage, and thus without a visa, such partners face the threat of deportation; but activists point out that if they get legally married to stay in the USA, they could also face persecution upon returning to their home country.

The justification for this move is that gay marriage is now legal in the USA, so it's only fair that gay and straight couples play by the same rules.

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The G-4 visa, which gets awarded to spouses, had been available to same-sex partners since 2009, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allowed it to ensure that couples could remain together without needing to be legally married.

Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of United Nations employees get visas unless they are married. He urged the administration to reconsider a "dangerous and bigoted policy".

In a 12 July note to the United Nations, the US Mission to the United Nations 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.

The United States informed foreign governments that they would allow "limited exceptions" to its new policy in cases involving diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal. The domestic partner still could get a visa as a family member if the diplomat represents a country where same-sex marriage is illegal, so long as that country recognizes same-sex spouses of US diplomats posted there. Fifty-five of them are working for worldwide organizations.

The policy was made effective Monday and comes despite the fact that the majority of countries around the world do not recognize same-sex marriage.

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