The Trump administration has begun to deny visas to same-sex partners of diplomats and United Nations officials who aren’t officially married, even if they hail from countries where marriage equality is not yet legal.
The new policy, which went into effect this Monday, also requires queer partners of diplomats currently in the United States to get married before the end of the year. Otherwise, they’ll be forced to leave the U.S. come 2019.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. Mission to the U.N. has attempted to portray the policy update as an alignment with the U.S.’s current marriage equality laws. But some fear the new rule will create new obstacles for partners of queer diplomats from nations that don’t permit marriage equality.
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power took to Twitter to voice her concern, highlighting that only 12% of current U.N. member states allow equal marriage:
Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage. https://t.co/MjZpRVLYcf
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) September 28, 2018
According to Foreign Policy, at least 10 current U.N. employees in the U.S. would need to get married to have their partners’ visas extended before the December 31, 2018 cutoff.
In a statement on its blog, U.N. Globe, an advocacy group for LGBTQ U.N. staff, called the update “an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage.”
This is hardly the Trump administration’s first anti-LGBTQ move in the world of foreign diplomacy and international relations: Last October, White House officials announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from UNESCO, a U.N. agency that protects LGBTQ people, young women, and historic cultural sites around the globe. That same month, the U.S. voted against a U.N. ban on laws penalizing homosexuality with a death penalty.