The US says it will now deny visas to unmarried same-sex partners of UN employees and foreign diplomats.
The new policy by the Trump-Pence administration will require those partners already in the country to get married by the end of the year or be forced to leave within 30 days.
The decision was revealed in a UN memo, and states: “As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status.”
The announcement is discriminatory as some same-sex couples affected are from countries in which they are not legally able to get married.
While they could marry in the US, this could have potentially dangerous consequences when they return home. Only 25 nations currently allow marriage equality, and in 70 countries homosexual conduct remains illegal, with penalties including imprisonment or the death penalty.
The US policy reverses a 2009 order by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granting diplomatic visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and UN employees.
The former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, condemned the move, calling it “cruel and bigoted”.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said in statement that, “The new policy would place an extraordinary burden on LGBTQ diplomats and families from countries without marriage equality.”
HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy commented: “This is an unconscionable, needless attack on some LGBTQ diplomats from around the world, and it reflects the hostility of the Trump-Pence administration toward LGBTQ people.”
He added: “It is unnecessary, mean-spirited, and unacceptable. The White House must immediately go back to a policy that is fully inclusive and takes into account the dangers faced by LGBTQ foreign diplomats, UN employees, and their families.”