United States begins denying visas for same-sex domestic partners of diplomats

The U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok Russia is seen on Dec. 11 2017

The U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok Russia is seen on Dec. 11 2017. Yuri Smityuk—TASS Getty Images

Under the new guidelines, diplomats regardless of sexual orientation will need to be married by the end of the year in order for their partners to receive visas.

The U.N. Globe addressed this in a statement, noting that the State Department was "enforcing parity in the way they recognize opposite-sex partnerships and same-sex partnerships". In light of the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the USA extends diplomatic visas only to married spouses of US diplomats.

However, there are concerns about the implications this new policy will have on diplomats whose countries do not recognize same-sex marriages.

About 12 percent of the 193 United Nations member states allow same-sex marriage, according to Samantha Power, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who served under former president Barack Obama.

David Pressman, who served as USA ambassador to the UN Security Council for special political affairs under President Barack Obama, said the policy change was so damaging because the UN was "composed of probably one of the most diverse workforces of any organization in the world".

"The reality is that the difference between being in a heterosexual couple and being in a same-sex relationship is that heterosexual couples have an incredible number of choices of where they can get married", Nam told CNN.

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in NY. If they fail to comply, they must leave the country within 30 days of the December 31 deadline.

"What I'm anxious about is those staff members who have difficulties going to a country that performs same-sex marriages ... in order to fufill this requirement", said Alfonso Nam, the president of the UN LGBTQI advocacy organization UN-GLOBE.

The new United States policy has drawn criticism from gay rights advocates who say it is not accommodating toward diplomats who come from countries that are hostile to same-sex unions.

Akshaya Kumar, the Deputy UN Director of Human Rights Watch, wrote that the change "will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples".

The change was implemented Monday, and will also apply to diplomats from countries where homosexuality is criminalized, leaving them few options. "Consistent with [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.

While gay rights have made strong inroads internationally in recent years, only one country outside the Western world and Latin America - South Africa - explicitly permits gay marriage.

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