This is a change in the current policy where the UN only recognized the unions of staffers who came from countries where gay marriage is legal, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq was quoted as saying July 7 in an AP report published in timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
Ban has been an outspoken supporter of equality rights and openly denounced homophobia in his speeches around the world.
“This is a step forward that many of the staffers at the United Nations had been seeking for some time,” Haq said adding that the new policy became effective June 26.
The policy will have a great impact on the approximately 43,000 employees the UN employs worldwide.
This means gay spouses of UN employees will be eligible for benefits such as health and insurance coverage and the chance to accompany spouses on their home leave like straight couples.
Haq pointed out that employees of separate UN agencies, such as the children’s agency Unicef and the UN cultural agency Unesco will also be affected by the change in policy.** CORRECTED
According to the Pew Research Centre, marriage between same-sex couples is legal in only 18 countries. Parts of the United States and Mexico also recognize such marriages.
However, in many of the 193 member states of the UN, same-sex relations is illegal and punishable with jail time and sometimes even with death.
The United Nations provides its staff with an opportunity to serve in a multicultural environment in a variety of jobs in the support of global causes and who are expected to uphold the principles and core values of integrity, professionalism, efficiency and respect for diversity.
Staff members are chosen primarily through merit and qualifications and are not discriminated against on basis of race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.
** The Associated Press, relying on information from the U.N., reported erroneously that the new policy affected only employees of the UN Secretariat while in fact it applies to all UN employees, including those who work at separate agencies and programs such as Unicef and Unesco.