The United Nations is now providing full benefits to all staffers in legal same-sex marriages, regardless if their country of citizenship officially recognizes their union, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Monday. Previously, the U.N. only recognized marriages from countries where same-sex unions are legal.
The new policy quietly went into effect June 26 and only impacts those at the U.N. secretariat, which employs about 43,000 staffers worldwide. Other U.N. organizations, including UNESCO and the World Food Program, already recognized employees in same-sex unions regardless of where they took place, according to Huffington Post.
“Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations,” Ki-moon said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “I am proud to stand for greater equality for all staff, and I call on all members of our UN family to unite in rejecting homophobia as discrimination that can never be tolerated at our workplace.”
The UN-GLOBE, which represents LGBT U.N. employees, welcomed the announcement but told Huffington Post that further barriers remained.
“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.”