The United States will no longer give same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and United Nations staff visas to live in the country, under a new policy that took effect this week. "As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners ... seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change in such status". The 2009 policy, however, did not allow a heterosexual domestic partner of a US or foreign diplomat to enter the country on a diplomatic visa.
In 2014, the State Department rolled back partner benefits and protections for same-sex couples after an unmarried heterosexual couple filed an equal employment opportunity complaint, asking to be recognized as domestic partners.
The Trump administration policy is an example of evolving practices since the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. It's illegal to be gay in around 69 countries, and several still have the death penalty.
Former US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power decried the Trump administration's move as "needlessly cruel & bigoted".
USA officials told reporters that the change was meant to align U.S. policy toward foreign diplomats with State Department policy toward American diplomats posted overseas.
Same-sex couples already inside of the United States could go to city hall and get married.
Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in NY.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to address the policy at her regular briefing with reporters Tuesday. The new policy only allows entry into the United States if the partners are legally married. If they fail to comply, they must leave the country within 30 days of the December 31 deadline.
Heterosexual domestic partners of foreign diplomats are also not eligible for US visas, a State Department spokesperson explained, and the new policy would "ensure and promote equal treatment", according to ABC News. Same-sex marriage is only legal in a handful of countries worldwide.
A European diplomat based in NY told SBS News on Tuesday: "It's tough enough being a diplomat with a same-sex partner, there are relatively few countries who will give a visa to your spouse or let them work". But they could potentially be exposed to prosecution if they return to a country that criminalizes homosexuality or same-sex marriages.
There are now 71 countries that criminalise same-sex relations, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).