UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Russia is actively trying to overturn a UN policy granting equal benefits to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian staff.
The progressive policy was announced by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, a vocal supporter of LGBTI equality, in July last year.
It grants spousal partner benefits to gay and lesbian staff who’ve legally married or entered into a civil union, regardless of where in the world they are posted.
Russia has now objected to the policy, claiming that a 2004 UN General Assembly resolution allows the countries where staff members are posted to decide on partner benefits.
Foreignpolicy.com reported that a Russian diplomat told the UN’s main budget committee on Monday that, “We will insist that the secretary-general urgently revoke the administrative bulletin” giving benefits to same-sex partners or spouses.
Moscow has argued that countries that do not recognise same-sex relationships would be forced to pay for these benefits.
Russia has threatened to force a vote on the matter in the committee, which it could possibly win.
Philippe Bolopion, the UN representative for Human Rights Watch, said that member states “should push back hard against Russia’s backwards efforts to impose on the UN the same kind of homophobic attitudes Moscow promotes at home.”
The European Union and the United States have supported Ban’s directive, insisting that he has the authority “to manage UN staff.”
When the policy was announced last year, spokesperson Farhan Haq said that the Secretary General “is proud to stand for greater equality for all staff. He also calls on all members of the UN family to unite in rejecting homophobia.”
Russia’s now-infamous and sweeping “gay propaganda” bill was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June 2013, despite international condemnation. The law has been blamed for an increase in discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTI community.
The UN employs around 44,000 staff members around the world.