Gay and lesbian employees working for the United Nations can receive benefits for their partners if their unions are legally recognized by their governments, U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan announced Thursday, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The decision to allow family benefits to same-sex couples will go into effect on Sunday. The bulletin said the move is meant to "ensure respect for the social, religious, and cultural diversity of the member states and their nationals."
The organization employs tens of thousands of people around the world, but only the professional staff and those with long-term contracts are given family benefits. The bulletin does not provide figures about same-sex marriages nor countries that legally recognize homosexual marriages, the German news agency reported.