July 7, 2014 (TSR) – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced on Monday that the United Nations is changing its LGBT policies: The Secretariat will now fully recognize same-sex marriages of all its staff members and also provide full benefits to its employees, regardless of whether their home country recognizes marriage equality.
“Previously, the United Nations only recognized the unions of staffers who came from countries where gay marriage is legal”, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday to Associated Press.
With the new policy change, relationship status will be determined based on where the couple gets married. Therefore, if gay employees legally get married to their partners in United States, the marriages will be recognized by the U.N., even if they won’t be recognized in their home countries.
“This is a step forward that many of the staffers at the United Nations had been seeking for some time,” the deputy spokesman added.
According to Haq, the new United Nations policy came to effective on June 26.
However, the change does not apply to all of the nearly 50 U.N. organizations, although some of them — such as UNESCO and the World Food Program — already had policies recognizing same-sex unions based on where the marriages took place, reported by Huffington Post.
Moreover, the change will also not apply to the independent U.N. pension fund and the pension, death and disability benefits that it manages.
Ban’s announcement applies only to employees of the U.N. Secretariat, but it is expected that other agencies in the system will be pressured to follow suit.
In a statement, UN-GLOBE, the association that represents, lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex U.N. employees, praised the change but said they wished it would have gone further.
“Let me reiterate UN-GLOBE’s belief that the fairest policy would have been an affidavit policy, as it would have covered general service, national and even some international staff who, under the newly adopted policy, may not be able to secure visas, nor have the resources, to travel to a country where legal unions are performed,” said UN-GLOBE President Hyung Hak “Alfonso” Nam. “But for now, I would say this: at long last. Let us just enjoy this moment, this huge victory.”
According to the Pew Research Center, gay marriage is legal in 18 countries, plus parts of the United States and Mexico.
But prejudice remains deep in many countries. An extreme case is Uganda, which in February passed a law making gay sex punishable by a life sentence.