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USA ends diplomatic visas for United Nations same-sex partners

USA ends diplomatic visas for United Nations same-sex partners

According to Foreign Policy, the rule is being applied retroactively, so same-sex partners of diplomats and U.N. officials who are already in the United Sates either have to get married by the end of the year or leave the country.

In a statement published on its website on October 1, the State Department has warned: "Effective immediately, USA embassies and consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses".

In a statement to NBC News, the State Department said the change is supposed to "to help ensure and promote equal treatment" between straight and gay couples.

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 worldwide visa practices in line with current U.S. policy. But then secretary of state Hillary Clinton allowed same-sex domestic partners of diplomats and foreign staff to accompany their partners to the United States.

Sex-sex partners will not be banned outright.

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. The partner must show proof of marriage by December 31 or leave the country within 30 days.

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Same-sex marriage remains illegal in the vast majority of United Nations member states - some of which, such as Saudi Arabia, which is on friendly terms with the USA, punish same-sex relationships with the death penalty. They also explained that the policy brings visa rules into conformity with the rights and benefits given to US government diplomats and staffers.

This rule has applied to heterosexual domestic partners since 2009.

Only 12 percent of the countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage. And unmarried partners who aren't yet in the United States will not be eligible for visas to move there.

Individuals will be eligible for "limited exceptions" if they can prove they are from countries that outlaw same-sex partners, said Stephen Schlesinger, a fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank. In at least 73 countries same-sex sex is illegal.

The change poses a problem for some same-sex couples who are not legally allowed to marry in their home country. That exception will only apply to diplomats, not to employees of the United Nations and other global organizations.

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