UN Recognises Same-Sex Married Couple

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By Athena Yenko | July 8, 2014 3:59 PM EST

United Nations Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon announced a new bulletin that recognises same-sex marriage among couples at its secretariat.

REUTERS/Noor Khamis
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attends the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi June 27, 2014.

The announcement was one of the highlights at the daily press briefing conducted by Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the Secretary General.

According to the spokesman, the new bulletin presents a new way of determining personal status applicable to same-sex couples across the UN Secretariat wherein same-sex couples married in a country where same-sex marriages are legal, the status of the staff member involved will be determined on that basis.

 "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," Haq said.

The secretary-general made the new bulletin with the core mission of the United Nations in mind - human rights.

"He said that he is proud to stand for greater equality for all staff.  He also calls on all members of the UN family to unite in rejecting homophobia. The new policy became effective on 26 June," Haq added.

Australians employed by UN, married in New Zealand and the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is legal, may now changed their statuses to being "married" at work.

Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome said that the decision is only logical and that Prime Minister Tony Abbott should take it as precedence in imposing marriage equality in the country.

"The UN's sensible decision to treat all marriages equally increases pressure on the Abbott Government to allow a free vote so the same can happen under Australian law. It is an embarrassment that the U.N. recognises the legal marriages of Australian same-sex couples while these couples' own government fails to do the same," Croome said.

Same-sex marriages that occurred before the December 12 High Court ruling, that finds changes to ACT law resulting for same-sex marriages to no longer be operational with the concurrent federal Marriage Act, have no legal status.

However, Aussie couples upheld that their marriages are valid.

"These couples would be less than enthusiastic to actively do anything to unwind something that was so significant to them in their life journey. Perhaps it's a personal protest, but what they are choosing to do is not retreat from the position that they found themselves in when they had the opportunity to get married," Australian Marriage Equality Deputy Director Ivan Hinton said.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Noor Khamis / REUTERS/Noor Khamis)
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attends the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi June 27, 2014.
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