A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT: THE UN WILL NOW RECOGNIZE STAFF MEMBERS' LEGAL SAME-SEX UNIONS
It is with great pleasure that I would like to inform you that, at long last, the UN will begin recognizing staff members' legal same-sex unions.
This is a historic achievement, one that was long overdue— a step that brings us closer to full equality.
What this means is simple: if you a staff member in a legal union, the UN will recognize it. If you were thinking of entering into one, you can now do so with the full knowledge that the UN will recognize it.
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. You have written to us constantly, and you have reminded us on a daily basis of the urgency of this issue.
This discriminatory practice is now gone.
With this new policy in place at the UN, I believe that the entire UN system will follow suit, if history is any guide. And if any agency, fund, or programme still refuses to change, we will make sure they hear from us.
This includes the UNJSPF, our pension fund.
In fact, with this new policy in place at the UN, it is my hope that the pension fund will be under a lot of pressure to change its discriminatory policies towards staff. And we will be front and center advocating for change.
Much still remains to be done. We have to address homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. We have to make sure staff members' sons and daughters— our families, not only our partners— are recognized.
These are the battles coming up.
Let me reiterate also UN-GLOBE's belief that the fairest policy would have been an affidavit policy, as it would have covered general service and national 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.
The affidavit approach should by no means be tossed out the window. We ought to advocate for it still.
But for now, I would say this: let us just enjoy this moment, this huge victory.
The UN is finally starting to listen, and to act, much to its credit.
We owe immense gratitude to the Secretary-General, to staff in OHRM who have worked hard to make this happen, and to previous, and current UN-GLOBE colleagues who have advocated tirelessly for this,
Signing off with immense relief,
Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)
Announced on i-Seek:
Secretary-General Announces New Policy on Personal Status for Same-Sex Couples
Thursday, 3 July 2014, Global | DM
Acting on his conviction that “equality begins at home,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced a new way of determining personal status applicable to same-sex couples across the UN Secretariat.
Previously, a staff member’s personal status was determined by the laws applicable in their country of nationality. Now, personal status will be determined instead by the law of the competent authority under which the personal status was established.
As such, if a same-sex couple get married in a country where same-sex marriages are legal, the personal status of the staff member(s) involved will be determined on that basis.
“All staff members are part of the UN family and deserve to be treated equally,” said the Secretary-General in a recent article on LinkedIn.
This landmark policy reform follows a pledge by the Secretary-General to address discrimination against staff based on sexual orientation. On 16 November 2012, he held the first-ever meeting of any Secretary-General with representatives of UN-GLOBE, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) UN staff, hearing their concerns and announcing steps to foster greater equality.
Describing the new policy, the Secretary-General said, “Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations. 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.”