UN recognises same-sex marriage for all staff

Around 43,000 people will benefit from the new policy

The United Nations (UN) announced on Tuesday that it will recognise gay marriages amongst all its staffers, in a landmark policy which will give same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexuals.

The new policy, headed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, came into effect on 26 June, and will affect approximately 43,000 UN employees worldwide.

Previously, the intergovernmental organisation only recognised the unions of staff members who are citizens of countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

But couples married in any country where same-sex unions are lawful will now be able to enjoy UN staff benefits, including: health insurance coverage, and the opportunity to accompany their partner during home leave.

However, employees of UN agencies, including UNICEF and the UNESCO cultural body, are not affected by the change, deputy spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed.

Read more: First same-sex couples in UK tie knot
Bakery refuses to make gay Bert and Ernie wedding cake
Britain should be proud of gay weddings

UN-Globe, a group representing LGBT staffers at the UN, had been pushing for the measure since 1997. It welcomed Monday's announcement as a massive step forward.

"Too many of us have suffered under the previous policy. Too many of us have been unable to secure, for example, residency visas and health benefits for our spouses because of a discriminatory policy that would refuse to recognize our legal partners,” the group's president, Hyung Hak Nam, said in a statement.

“Let us just enjoy this moment, this huge victory."

Anna Guerraggio, an Italian citizen who works for the UN in New York, told reporters that the announcement means she and her partner of five years, Flaminia De Agostini, need no longer worry about visa or immigration issues. Waiting for her girlfriend to hear whether she got a job with a visa is also a thing of the past.

“If she doesn't get the job, then we get married and she benefits from my visa,” Guerraggio said in a telephone interview from Italy, where same-sex marriage is not recognised.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to reporters in Ukraine (Getty Images) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to reporters in Ukraine (Getty Images)

Read more: Is sexual orientation a choice?
Sir Elton John: 'Jesus would support gay marriage'
Luxembourg passes same-sex marriage

Guerraggio went on to praise the UN secretary general, for his "bold" moves to promote LGBT rights.

“For a couple of years, the secretary-general has boldly spoken about equality for all people, and now he was bold enough to do it,” Guerraggio said. “He is defending his own employees, and we appreciated that.”

During his tenure at head of the organisation, Ban has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights - notably just before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, when he condemned attacks and discrimination against homosexuals.

The speech came at a time when activists and protesters had stepped up their campaign against Russia's law restricting gay rights activities.

According to the Pew Research Center, same-sex marriage is legal in 18 countries, plus parts of the US 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.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living