US restricts visas to unmarried gay diplomats

US restricts visas to unmarried gay diplomats

US restricts visas to unmarried gay diplomats

But it also rolls back a practice championed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners of diplomats or worldwide staff posted in the US, even if they were not legally married.

They noted one particular exception to the new policy: The administration is prepared to work with diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal, provided the country offers equivalent protections to LGBTQ diplomats from the U.S.

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 U.S. Mission to the United Nations portrayed the decision-which foreign diplomats fear will increase hardships for same-sex couples in countries that don't recognize same-sex marriage-as an effort to bring its global visa practices in line with current U.S. policy", Foreign Policy reports.

They can conduct a same-sex marriage overseas, but face being imprisoned in some countries, travel alone, or break up with their partner.

The official said the United States was aware that many gay couples faced a lack of acceptance in their home countries but that the United States wanted to "ensure equal treatment and reciprocity".

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Samantha Power, former USA ambassador to the United Nations under the Obama administration, also expressed outrage in reaction to the news - decrying the move as "needlessly cruel & bigoted".

If they do not comply by the December 31 deadline, and subsequently submit proof of marriage, they are expected to leave the country within 30 days of the deadline. She said only 12 percent of United Nations member states allow same-sex marriages. And unmarried partners who aren't yet in the United States will not be eligible for visas to move there.

Since 2009, heterosexual domestic partners have not been able to get visas. 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. It's illegal to be gay in around 69 countries, and several still have the death penalty.

The State Department said that 105 families will be impacted. "It is a recognition and a codification of the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in the United States", the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The policy change was announced in July, when the State Department said it would only "accept the accreditation of spouses, both same-sex and opposite-sex", beginning on October 1.

However, there are concerns about the implications of the new requirements for diplomats from countries which do not recognise same-sex marriages.

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