USA begins denying visas for same-sex domestic partners of diplomats

Aaron Brown
October 3, 2018

Heterosexual domestic partners of foreign diplomats are also not eligible for USA visas, a State Department spokesperson explained, and the new policy would "ensure and promote equal treatment", according to ABC News.

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 only allows entry into the United States if the partners are legally married.

Exceptions may be made for those who come from countries that don't allow same-sex marriage but do accept US same-sex diplomatic spouses for accreditation.

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".

While the couples have until January 1 to get married - and could do so in the United States - they could be arrested and prosecuted when they return home if homosexuality is illegal there.

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power decried the policy, calling it "needlessly cruel and bigoted".

Those who don't submit proof of marriage by 31 December will be required to leave the country within 30 days, the memo says.

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The majority of 193 United Nations member countries do not legalise same-sex marriage, meaning diplomats face a tough choice.

In a 12 July note to the United Nations, the US Mission to the United Nations lauded the change as a step towards equality, saying "same-sex spouses of US diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", US media report.

Unmarried heterosexual partners are also not eligible for USA visas.

But critics says the new policy will impose undue hardships on foreign couples from countries that criminalize same-sex marriages. The domestic partner still could get a visa as a family member if the diplomat represents a country where same-sex marriage is illegal, so long as that country recognizes same-sex spouses of US diplomats posted there.

LGBTQ activists, for their part, have expressed alarm that the move will actually harm these couples, many of whom hail from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal.

Pressman, who advocated for global LGBT+ equality during his time at the United Nations, added: "If that's how you advance equality between same-sex and opposite-sex partners, then we have an enormous problem on our hands". However, in many situations registering a marriage could put same-sex couples at risk in a way that privately providing evidence of a domestic partnership would not have done.

But the policy could pose a major problem for some diplomats and employees because in many countries, same-sex marriage still isn't allowed, with less than 15 percent of countries in the world recognizing it as legal.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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