Russia calls on UN to block benefits for married gay staff

Around 43,000 people benefit from the policy introduced last summer

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Russia has put forward a proposal to the UN to stop its General Assembly from extending staff benefits to same-sex couples, according to diplomats.

Last summer, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the UN would offer opposite-sex and same-sex couples equal benefits.

The change, which effects around 43,000 UN employees worldwide, scrapped a previous law meaning a staff members’ marital status was determined by the laws of their country of nationality. Instead, same-sex married couples are allowed benefits if they are married in a country where it is legal.

But Russia requested that the the General Assembly Fifth Committee, which decides the United Nations budget, vote on Tuesday to overturn Ban's decision, following threats over the measure since December last year. 

The Fifth Committee website currently states that an “action” will be taken on the proposal on Tuesday.

Diplomats told Reuters that is remains unclear how much support there was for the measure.

The Russian UN mission declined to comment.

The measure comes in the wake of a controversial anti “gay-propaganda” law, which sparked an international outcry before the start of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. 

Critics denounced the law as discriminatory and said it is a curb on rights to free speech and assembly.