UPDATE FROM THE PRESIDENT ON THE WORK OF UN-GLOBE (24 September 2014)

Dear UN-GLOBE colleagues,

Now that summer is past us, and September is in full swing, I wanted to briefly update you on the work UN-GLOBE has done.

Same-sex unions

More and more organizations are revising their policies in order to recognize all legal same-sex union. You can see the list of organizations that have done so at the bottom*. (You can also see them in our Resources page.)

ILO, WHO, and WIPO are very close to doing so, and we are ensuring that these organizations do not get cold feet.

Letters to Resident Coordinators

Following requests from you, we have sent individual UN-GLOBE letters to all Resident Coordinators around the world. [SEE sample letter to Resident Coordinators - Zimbabwe]. 133 letters total. This is what we have asked of them:

- That they release a statement making it clear that homophobia and transphobia have no place in the workplace

- That they ensure that all legal same-sex partners are able to secure residency visas so that legal couples can move together to the duty station

- That they ensure the safety and security of LGBTI staff and their families in countries with high levels of homophobia and transphobia

- That in countries with anti-gay laws, they have a plan to secure the release of any LGBTI staff member prosecuted under said laws.

We hope these letters will make a difference. Already, we have received responses from 14 Resident Coordinators willing to look into these issues.

We have also reached out to Helen Clark as head of the United Nations Resident Coordinator System. We have asked her to send her own message to Resident Coordinators.

Pension issue

Making sure that the UNJSPF changes its rules is one my top priorities.

An increasing number of UN organizations are adopting a Jurisdiction-based approach to recognition of personal status. So should the UNJSPF. It is the legality of your same-sex union that should be relevant, not your country of nationality.

What the UNJSPF should be mindful of is this: we live in a world where there is still great amounts of homophobia and transphobia, where same-sex couples who want to legalize their unions have very limited options to do so. Equality demands that LGBTI staff members be given a fair shot to secure a future for their spouses should he or she die.

We have sent you a form letter to fill out if you are in a legal union recognized by your employer but not recognized by the UNJSPF. Please send this form letter to the CEO of the UNJSPF, and please let us know that you have done so.

We will be actively monitoring UNJSPF’s response while discussing other options beyond the form letter.

I’ll continue to keep you informed.

Future work

Immediate priorities are:

- To draft UN-GLOBE position papers on three issues: a) inclusive adoption/ surrogacy policies; b) inclusive policies towards staff members with HIV/AIDS; and c) inclusive policies towards transgender and intersex staff members.

- We will also institutionalize the work of UN-GLOBE so that UN-GLOBE is more accountable. We are also exploring aligning ourselves closely, or officially with the staff associations of the UN such as FICSA, CCISUA, and UNISERV. More details on this will follow.

Finally, the commitments I wrote to you about in July are commitments we still have. We will come up with effective ways for you to pay your UN-GLOBE member ship fees; we will come up with a way for UN-GLOBE members to volunteer and give back to their communities; we will work on a survey for all staff of the UN system; and we will continue to ask for sensitive  mobility policies that take into account the needs of LGBTI Staff.

Our work for full equality and non-discrimination continues.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail us at ohrm_globe@un.org, or drop me a note at nam@un.org.

Sincerely,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

* FAO, ICAO, IFAD, PAHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFCCC, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNMICT, UNODC, UN Secretariat, UN Women, WFP (Go to our Resources page in order to see the actual policies)

 

 

A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT: THE UN WILL NOW RECOGNIZE STAFF MEMBERS' LEGAL SAME-SEX UNIONS (3 July 2014)

Dear all,

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,

Yours,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

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.”

Policy recognizing legal same-sex unions at the UN.

 

 

LETTERS TO HEADS OF UN AGENCIES, FUNDS, AND PROGRAMMES, AND HEADS OF UN OFFICES, ON HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA IN THE WORKPLACE (46 letters)

Dear all,

It has been a really busy past five months.

Since January, we have sent the Secretary-General a letter on mobility co-written with our sister organizations at the State Department, GLIFAA, and the European Union, Egalité; we have reacted quickly to the adoption of an anti-gay law in Uganda to write to the Secretary-General again to express our concern for LGBTI staff serving in countries with increasing levels of homophobia; we have carried out a video campaign featuring staff speaking about their experiences; released posters to publicize issues such as inequalities in pension benefits, and unfair policies when it comes to same-sex unions; and we have a brand new website up and running.

Our advocacy is yielding results. I believe this. The UN, to its credit, is reacting to our demands, increasingly addressing homophobia in the workplace with a “let’s roll up our sleeves and address this” approach. A working group is meeting in the Secretariat to come up with concrete solutions. WFP organized a wonderful event in May against homophobia and transphobia with the active involvement of our Rome coordinator, Antonio Brina. During this event, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the food agency delivered passionate remarks against homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. Having also spoken at this event, I can say that many WFP staff were moved by such a clear statement of support from their head.

WFP, by the way, recently adopted the Jurisdiction approach, whereby all legal unions will be recognized regardless of the staff member’s country of nationality. IFAD adopted this last year.

As to when the rest of the UN system will move towards this, I hope it will be soon. I can’t discuss much just yet, but we will be pushing again, a push I hope becomes it. We are close, it’s all I will say at this point.

We have not forgotten at the same time that the Jurisdiction approach is not the most inclusive approach. The Jurisdiction approach, quite frankly, prioritizes international staff who can be mobile, and national and general service staff serving in developed countries. It does not do enough for national and general service staff in countries whose citizens have a hard time securing visas to the West, let alone to get married. We are mindful of this, and we have not given up on the Affidavit approach, whereby a staff member can get his or her union recognized if certain requirements are met, such as obtaining a notarized statement of commitment.

When it comes to pensions, the Pension Board meets this July. We are strategizing, working out an action plan that can be effective and can bring about change. As the UN system increasingly moves towards a Jurisdiction approach, where all legal unions are recognized, it will become increasingly indefensible for the UNJSPF to continue its policy of only recognizing legal unions from staff members with the correct nationality.

We will need all of you to get involved, so please stay tuned. And remember this, the pension issue is not an issue that concerns only those who are near retirement. Even if you have decades of work left before retirement, you too are impacted. If you are in a legal union that is not recognized by the UNJSPF, should you die at any moment in the near future, your legal partner will be left without any benefits. The UNJSPF policy can impact us all, and we ought to stand together in solidarity.

Another issue of concern to us all is homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. This is a problem particularly in field duty stations. Many of you have expressed your concerns, and we want the UN system to address them.

In fact, the fight against homophobia and transphobia will be a priority for UN-GLOBE in the months ahead.

As part of this fight, please find attached one of the letters sent to heads of agencies, funds, and programmes, as well as to the heads of regional offices. What we ask is this: that a clear statement be issued declaring that homophobia and transphobia will not be tolerated in the workplace, and that there will be accountability, especially for managers; that a diversity strategy be initiated to make the Organization a more inclusive place for all; and that the Organization support us in changing the policy at UNJSPF.

Starting today, and continuing over the next few days, this letter will be sent to over 30 senior leaders of the UN system.

We hope that it will have an impact and that UN-GLOBE can start working with all UN entities who want to address homophobia and transphobia in the workplace.

As always, if you have questions, or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail us at ohrm_globe@un.org. On our website, you will find our list of Coordinators around the world, and our Coordinators for specific agencies, funds, and programmes (http://www.unglobe.org/about-us/). We are here to help.

Finally, let me say this: we will be holding elections starting this month for the UN-GLOBE Board. I strongly encourage you to consider running for any of the offices (President, Vice-President, Secretary, or Treasurer). There will be a call for nominations; release of candidates’ statements; and finally, electronic voting.

As for myself, I do plan to run for another term. We have achieved quite a number of impressive results in the past year, but the work is not finished. There is quite a lot more on my to-do list, and I have the determination and energy to see that list narrow.  As our slogan for IDAHOT 2014 states: equality starts at home. We have to achieve this in the UN system, a symbol of a better future to so many people.

Please stay tuned for more messages from us.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

CBD     CTBTO     ECA     ECLAC     ESCAP     ESCWA     FAO     IAEA     ICAO     IFAD     ILO     IMO

ITC     ITU     OHCHR     OPCW    UNAIDS     UNCCD     UNCTAD     UNDP     UNECE     UNEP          

UNESCO     UNFCCC     UNFPA     UN HABITAT     UNHCR     UNICEF     UNIDO     UNISDR     UNMICT     

UNODC     UNOG     UNON     UNOPS     UNOV     UNRWA     UNV     UN WOMEN     UNWTO     UPU     

WFP     WHO     WIPO     WMO     WTO

 

Responses received:    ITC    UNEP (letter)    UNEP (memo)    WIPO

 

RESPONSE LETTER FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMAN RESOURCES TO UN-GLOBE'S REQUEST TO JOIN THE LGBTI WORKING GROUP [29 April 2014]

Dear UN-GLOBE colleagues,

As you remember, a UN-GLOBE letter was sent to the USG of the Department of Management [letter requesting Mr. Takasu that UN-GLOBE be invited to join this Groupasking that UN-GLOBE be allowed to participate in the working group that has been established to discuss matters of concern to LGBTI staff, among them visa issues for same-sex spouses; and staff security in countries with anti-gay legislation or environments.

Please find the response from the ASG of Human Resources, which is encouraging.

I will keep you posted on the discussions of the group.

We’ll continue to fight to make sure our voices are heard.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

See also - letter from the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, Yukio Takasu

 

 

FAX SENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FIELD SUPPORT TO THE PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS ON HOMOPHOBIA AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THOSE ENGAGING IN HOMOPHOBIA + THE LATEST CIRCULAR FROM THE UNJSPF REGARDING BENEFITS FOR SAME-SEX SPOUSES [23 April 2014]

Dear UN-GLOBE colleagues,

I wanted to share with you two important documents that we have received recently.

One of them is a fax sent by the Department of Field Support to all peacekeeping missions for distribution to all staff [Awareness raising to end discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) staff].

It states in strong language that discrimination against LGBTI individuals will not be tolerated “under any circumstances” in the UN office, and makes clear that a manager has the responsibility to act when he or she becomes aware of any incident.

This is a great step in the right direction, and I’m personally glad to see that the points UN-GLOBE has raised have made it into the fax.

I hope this fax will contribute to making the office environment in peacekeeping missions more inclusive, and more tolerable, particularly in countries where it is difficult to serve as an openly gay, or openly trans staff member.

Also, this fax can now be used as a model for other non-peacekeeping UN offices around the world so I would encourage you to forward this in whatever ways you think would be helpful.

Furthermore, let me use this opportunity to say that if you need any assistance from UN-GLOBE, please let us know.

On another news, pension continues to be an issue.

Please find attached the latest circular from the UNJSPF clarifying which same-sex unions they will recognize, and from which countries.

The good news is that they are starting to be more transparent about which unions they would recognize.

The bad news is that they continue to not recognize some legal unions, without caring whether the employer of the staff member does recognize such a union. This can lead to the untenable situation where a staff member is in a legal union recognized by her employer, but the same legal union is not recognized by the UNJSPF. From being considered Married (or equivalent) on the last day of employment, to being considered Single by the UNJSPF on the first day of retirement.

In addition, they will stop recognizing French PACS, and are asking that some of you already in French PACS get married instead in order to continue receiving recognition for your partner. This sets a dangerous precedent: all of us in legal unions other than marriages that are currently recognized by the UNJSPF can find ourselves no longer recognized by the UNJSPF two years from now.

UN-GLOBE continues to address this issue.

We are making sure that staff unions of the UN system are aware of this issue, and supportive of change; we will continue pushing this issue as an agenda item whenever the UN system gets together to discuss human resources matters; and we will continue to push for our people to get elected to any position that could play a relevant role— such as staff representatives to any pension committee, as one UN-GLOBE colleague already is.

If any of you can help in this regards, please do. And please let us know.

Pension might sound like an issue that won’t affect you until decades from now. But this is not so. If you are to die while serving in duty today, your partner could not be entitled to any survivor’s benefit.

Please take a look at the pension circular to see if your legal union is affected.

Those of you in French PACS are particularly affected, so please read the document very carefully. Get in touch with the UNJSPF to address your particular situation, and keep us at UN-GLOBE on the loop.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

 

 

UN-GLOBE'S RESPONSE LETTER TO THE UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MANAGENT [9 April 2014]

Dear colleagues,

Last week, I shared with you the letter we received from Under-Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu [letter from the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, Yukio Takasu] informing us that a Group had been established to address the issues we raised in two letters to the Secretary-General, particularly the situation in Uganda.

Today, I have sent a letter requesting Mr. Takasu that UN-GLOBE be invited to join this Group. Although I’m not optimistic that we will be invited, at the very least, I hope UN-GLOBE can meet with the Group.

In the meantime, I would ask that you share any instances where you faced homophobia or transphobia as a staff member. Although not all individual issues can be raised, it would give us a clearer idea of the realities we face. Any positive outcome, or innovative solution used, would also be welcome.

You can e-mail me at nam@un.org.

Also, very shortly, I will be forwarding to you the latest Guidelines issued by the Pension Fund that will be of particular interest to those of you in same-sex unions. And even if you are not, it would be really worth for you to take a look.

I will send that shortly.

Warmly,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

 

 

LETTER FROM THE UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE SITUATION IN UGANDA, AND MATTERS OF CONCERN TO LGBTI STAFF [4 April 2014]

Dear all,

We continue to be concerned about the situation in Uganda, and the increasing number of countries that have adopted or are considering anti-gay legislation.

This is going to impact our ability to serve in those countries, and our ability to be mobile.

As the attached letter from the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, Yukio Takasu, states, the UN Secretariat has decided to convene a group to study this matter. Please note that he is writing on behalf of the Secretary-General.

In the days ahead, we will try to influence this group’s thinking. If necessary, we will reach out to all Under-Secretary-Generals involved and request meetings as well.

I will continue to keep you posted on this issue.

I strongly encourage you to share your thoughts and comments with UN-GLOBE coordinators and officers-at-large, or the Board.

How will this impact you? What solutions would you like to see?

Please feel free to reach me at nam@un.org at any time.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

PS – Please find attached also a letter of support from the President of the Staff Council (representing UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS/UN-WOMEN) and UNISERV, Dimitri Savaras. It was sent yesterday to the Secretary-General.

 

 

MORE ON THE SITUATION IN UGANDA [14 March 2014]

Dear UN-GLOBE colleagues,

Last week, Anthony Lake and UNICEF issued an internal message to staff, and a public message on Tumblr expressing opposition to anti-homosexuality laws, and pledging to continue its work to protect all children from discrimination, including those who identify as LGBT.

UNICEF is increasingly being explicit about its support for LGBTI children and individuals, specifically citing them, and we, at UN-GLOBE, welcome this move.

We have met with UNICEF’s Director Human Resources last year, exchanged numerous correspondences, and we will continue to advocate for LGBTI staff at UNICEF.

You can find both messages attached.

Also, UN-GLOBE has reached out to the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, asking her to add her voice in opposition to the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, and to use her good offices to urge the Ugandan President to repeal it. Given that she is the head of the UN agency charged with education, science and culture, and given how President Musveni has based his decision on a report by a team of scientists that concluded that homosexuality is a learnt behavior, we thought it was important to reach out to her.

I want to thank our UN-GLOBE Coordinator at UNESCO Richard Lo Giudice, Frederick (Russ) Russell-Rivoallan, and other staff at UNESCO for their work on this letter.

The letter to the Director-General is attached.

The increasing homophobic environment in countries around the world is of concern to us all.

We are asked to serve in all corners of the world, but what happens when our conduct is criminalized in the countries we serve? What kind of protections should we seek?

This is something we are studying, and we will seek your input on this.

Please remember you can always reach out to your coordinators, officers-at-large, the Board, or myself at nam@un.org.

More on this soon.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE 

 

 

THE SITUATION IN UGANDA, LETTER TO THE SECRETARY-GENERAL [27 February 2014]

Dear colleagues,

Please find attached a letter to the Secretary-General on the situation in Uganda and how it impacts LGBTI staff there.

This is a situation that concerns all of us.

I have already heard from a few staff members in Uganda. If you are currently serving in Uganda, or know of a staff member who is, please get in touch with me at nam@un.org

We will continue to monitor the issue.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

See also - The President of the Staff Union e-mailed the Secretary-General expressing her support for UN-GLOBE's position.

 

 

WFP ADOPTS THE JURISDICTION APPROACH TO RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX UNIONS [26 February 2014]

Dear UN-GLOBE colleagues,

I wanted to share with you great news.

The World Food Programme is the latest UN agency to change its same-sex unions policy and move towards inclusiveness.

WFP has adopted the jurisdiction approach, which means that all same-sex unions legally recognized by a competent national authority regardless of the staff member’s country of nationality will now be recognized. If you manage to get married or enter into a legal union, it is this legality which will now be recognized.

We feel that this is a great step forward, and we will continue to push for change in the rest of the organizations of the UN system, including the UN Secretariat. We will also continue to advocate for the affidavit approach as the most inclusive one, as not all of us can afford or secure the requirements to get married or legally partnered in a third country.

I wanted to thank our coordinators in Rome: Antonio Brina, who is the overall UN-GLOBE coordinator for Rome, as well as the coordinator for WFP; Susan Beccio who is the coordinator for IFAD; Michael Riggs who left his post as coordinator for FAO this past January; and Nicoletta who is the incoming UN-GLOBE coordinator for FAO.

Given the many discussions we’ve had, I know they have worked hard on this issue, and on other issues as well. Thank you.

We will send a thank you letter on behalf of UN-GLOBE to Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of WFP.

An update on other issues will be coming very soon.

Best,

Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)

President, UN-GLOBE

 

 

TOP 10 ACHIEVEMENTS FOR 2013, AND PLANS FOR EARLY 2014 [22 January 2014]

Dear UN-GLOBE members,

Happy belated New Year.

As we begin 2014, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you the top ten UN-GLOBE achievements for 2013.

These TOP TEN achievements are:

[Rest of the message here.]