Trump Administration: No More Visas for Same-Sex Partners of Foreign Diplomats

Rainbow flags appear during event hosted by U.N. Globe a U.N. LGBTI advocacy group celebrating International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17 at United Nations Office in Nairobi

"Denying visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations officials is a discriminatory reversal of a policy that recognized that not all same-sex couples around the world have the freedom to marry and unfairly targets LGBT families", said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Ca.), a gay congressman who spoke at the State Department's annual gay pride event in June.

The State Department said in a letter in July that the move is created to reflect the U.S.'s law on same-sex marriage in its worldwide policies.

There are now at least 10 United Nations employees in the USA that would be affected by the policy change, according to Foreign Policy magazine. The U.S. allows issuance of a visa for a "domestic partner" of a diplomat to include a same-sex domestic partner "if the sending country would provide reciprocal treatment to domestic partners of U.S. diplomats and government officials in that country", the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs website says.

"The Department of State will not issue a G-4 visa for same-sex domestic partners", a State Department memo reads.

Should a same-sex couple from, say, for example, Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, or Egypt marry in the USA, upon returning home they could be arrested.

Former US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power blasted the move as "needlessly cruel and bigoted". "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".

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The majority of 193 United Nations member countries do not legalise same-sex marriage, meaning diplomats face a tough choice. They also explained that the policy brings visa rules into conformity with the rights and benefits given to USA government diplomats and staffers.

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

Currently, only 26 countries have legalized same-sex marriages, the Pew Research Center noted.

Now, diplomats and officials at these organizations who are in same-sex relationships will face the choice between getting married and separating. But that government would have to provide documentation proving that same-sex marriage was illegal and commit to accepting same-sex partners of US diplomats.

But that could put pose a problem for couples ineligible to legally marry in their home country.

LGBTQ activists, for their part, have expressed alarm that the move will actually harm these couples, many of whom hail from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal.

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