Trump admin now denying visas to same-sex partners of diplomats

In a memo sent to the U.N. Secretariat and obtained by CBS News, the U.S. Mission to the U.N. said that all new applicants who wish to bring a same-sex partner to the U.S. must be married to that partner, despite the fact that the vast majority of U.N. member states do not legalize same-sex marriage.

According to a September memo (pdf) circulated at the U.N.'s New York City headquarters, the new rules also mean that those who already reside in the USA and "who wish to maintain their G-4 visa must be ready to submit proof of marriage" by December 31-otherwise, "they will be expected to leave the United States within 30 days".

In a statement to NBC News, a State Department spokesman doubled down on this reasoning, saying the policy change is "to help ensure and promote equal treatment" between straight and gay couples.

The new visa regulations quickly garnered criticism for seemingly coercing same-sex couples to enter into a marriage that could earn them prison time back home.

The new policy affects at least 10 United Nations employees.

In a move against gay rights, the Trump administration will no longer grant visas to the partners of foreign diplomats if the two are in a same-sex relationship.

However, critics of the move argue that the new policy will create hardship for same-sex couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or only offer civil unions.

More news: Sabarimala Verdict: Once again, Supreme Court bats for women's equality

Affected couples could marry in the United States, but could face persecution upon returning to their home country.

Samantha Power, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, took to Twitter to criticize the policy, calling it "needlessly cruel and bigoted". She said only 12 percent of United Nations member states allow same-sex marriages.

For example, in a July ruling, Hong Kong's highest court directed the government to recognize an unmarried same-sex couple for visa purposes. The heterosexual partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees are also not eligible for USA visas.

Same-sex marriage is legal in only 25 countries, including the United States, according to Human Rights Watch.

This, it said, was "an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage". 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. It's illegal to be gay in around 69 countries, and several still have the death penalty.

United Nations staff come from around the world, and in the vast majority of countries same-sex marriage is not legal.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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