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U.N. Defeats Russian Anti-Gay Measure

The organization’s same-sex couples will continue to receive staff benefits.

U.N. General Assembly. Photo by Patrick Gruban via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, a Russian-led bid to deny benefits to same-sex couples employed by the United Nations was solidly trounced—the General Assembly fifth committee, which handles many of the organization’s budget issues, voted 80-43 against the measure. The BBC reports that benefits will continue to extend to same-sex couples “regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legal in their country of origin.”

Previously, the U.N. only recognized same-sex couples if their marriages were legal in their own nation. But this past July U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced that he would extend staff benefits to all gay couples, no matter where they were from. Russia, who in their desperate quest for official “international villain” status has aggressively discriminated against its own gay population, turning a blind eye to the country’s escalating anti-gay violence, bristled at Ban’s policy, claiming it violated their sovereign right to treat LGBT people like crap.

Ban Ki Moon. Photo by UNDP via Wikimedia Commons

According to the Guardian, Secretary Ban “has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights,” and “condemned attacks and discrimination against gay people shortly before last year’s winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.”

Russia has been threatening to upend the new standards for same-sex couples since December, but only now managed to put it to a vote. In an official statement, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power said that the initiative to block benefits “sets a dangerous precedent in challenging the Secretary-General’s authority to make administrative decisions” and “polarizes a committee dedicated to working toward consensus.”

“We must speak plainly about what Russia tried to do today,” added Power. “Diminish the authority of the U.N. Secretary-General and export to the UN its domestic hostility to LGBT rights.”

Other countries that joined in with Russia’s loser bid included China, Iran, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

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