Trump Administration to Deny Visas to Same-Sex Partners of Queer 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

There are now at least 10 U.N. employees in the United States who would need to get married by the New Year to have their partners' visas extended.

Under the new rule, the us will refuse diplomatic visas to domestic partners unless they get married by the end of the year (those who do not get married by December 31st will have to leave the country).

A State Department spokesperson told NBC News the decision is "to help ensure and promote equal treatment" for all visa applicants.

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.

After the end of this year, unmarried same-sex partners of diplomats and United Nations employees will be expected to leave the U.S. within 30 days if they remain unmarried and without a visa status change.

In a call on Tuesday, the State Department said that after the July issuance of the memo, Trump administration representatives explained to diplomats and United Nations officials that they would try to work with individuals to comply with the new rules.

"So it's especially difficult to understand why a country like United States would take a backwards step on this and make life even harder on same-sex couples for no apparent reason".

Or, as former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power put it in a tweet, the move is "needlessly cruel & bigoted".

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The State Department gave affected couples until December 31 to marry, either in the United States or in a third country where same-sex marriage is illegal, and present a valid marriage certificate. They also explained that the policy brings visa rules into conformity with the rights and benefits given to us government diplomats and staffers.

For example, in a July ruling, Hong Kong's highest court directed the government to recognize an unmarried same-sex couple for visa purposes.

Same-sex marriage is only legal in a handful of countries worldwide. And unmarried partners who aren't yet in the United States will not be eligible for visas to move there.

The shift requires same-sex partners to apply for a spousal visa, also known as the G-4 visa, and is "effective immediately".

There are now 71 countries that criminalise same-sex relations, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Deputy UN director Ms Kumar said: "The US government should recognise, as it had for nearly nine years until today, that requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy".

Now, diplomats and officials at these organizations who are in same-sex relationships will face the choice between getting married and separating.

United Nations staff come from around the world, and in the vast majority of countries same-sex marriage is not legal.

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