Trump Administration Denies Visas to Unmarried, Same-Sex Partners of Diplomats

Samantha Power

Samantha Power

They will be granted a diplomatic visa if the government which sends them to work in their embassies in the United States grants the same privileges to same-sex partners of USA officials sent to that country.

Alfonso Nam, president of UN-GLOBE, a group that advocates on behalf of the U.N.'s LGBTI employees, told The Washington Blade that the new rule would "have a chilling effect on all couples in the United States under a U.N. -sponsored visa who are in legal unions other than marriage".

The US mission to the United Nations reportedly notified couples of the decision in July and it took effect on Monday, according to the report. Affected couples could marry in the United States, but could face persecution upon returning to their home country.

But critics says the new policy will impose undue hardships on foreign couples from countries that criminalize same-sex marriages.

"Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses", the State Department said on its website.

"Same-sex spouses of US diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", the note said.

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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.

The State Department is headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has refused to distance himself from past comments describing gay people as a "perversion" and said he stands by his "very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry".

An exception in the policy applies for same-sex partners of diplomats coming from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, but do accredit same sex spouses of American diplomats.

"Consistent with the (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 diplomatic visa", it said.

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. Former Secretary of State John F. Kerry ordered ambassadors to pressure their host countries allow USA diplomats to bring their same-sex spouses with them openly, and report progress to him annually. He warned that some could be vulnerable to prosecution, and that it will create hurdles for couples considering a posting at United Nations headquarters in NY.

Samantha Power, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, said she was also dismayed by the visa policy, calling it "needlessly cruel & bigoted" in a tweet last week.

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