A new policy in the granting and issuance of visas in the United States will take effect. According to the State Department, visas to live in the country will no longer be issued to same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and United Nations employees.
A memorandum on this policy was sent to the U.N headquarters and stated that couples must be married in order to qualify for U.S visas.
The new policy requires foreign domestic partners to submit proof of marriage to the State Department by December 31 otherwise, they will be asked to leave the country within 30 days of notice. Meanwhile, unmarried partners who are not yet residing in the U.S will no longer be eligible for visas.
Former ambassador to the U.N Samantha Power tweeted, “Needlessly cruel & bigoted. State Department will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of U.N employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of U.N member states allow same-sex marriage.”
Same-sex marriage is only allowed in 25 countries including the United States, so foreign diplomats fear that same-sex couples who come from countries where it is considered illegal could face hardships and be penalized for getting married in the U.S.
Alfonso Nam, the president of the U.N LGBTQI advocacy organization UN-GLOBE said “What I’m worried about is those staff members who have difficulties going to a country that performs same-sex marriages … in order to fulfill this requirement,”
“This will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or only offer civil unions,” the group’s deputy UN director, Akshaya Kumar, wrote.
“The US government should recognize, 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.”
Currently, there are at least 10 U.N employees residing in the United States who need to get married by December 31 to be able to renew the visas of their partners.