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Russia Fails to Block Same-Sex Spousal Benefits for U.N. Employees

Russia Fails to Block Same-Sex Spousal Benefits for U.N. Employees


Much to the chagrin of some of the world's most homophobic governments, lesbian, gay and bisexual staffers at the United Nations will be able to share benefits with their same-sex spouses.

A Russian-led campaign to stop the United Nations from extending employee benefits to families headed by same-sex couples has come up short, according to multiple media reports.

Last July, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced his plan to extend employee benefits to legally married staffers with same-sex partners. In response, Russia introduced a measure in the General Assembly Budget Committee to derail the move. Last week, that measure failed by a vote of 80-43, according toNPR.

NPR noted that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, China, and dozens of other nations supported Russia in opposing spousal benefits for same-sex couples.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. and European Union lobbied hard against Russia's bid to defeat Ban's extension of benefits. Although making the policy more inclusive appears to have been within the secretary general's power, he needed the budget committee to approve additional funding for the new benefits.

"We must speak plainly about what Russia tried to do today: diminish the authority of the U.N. secretary-general and export to the U.N. its domestic hostility to LGBT rights," said Ambassador Samantha Power, the American representative to the U.N., in a written statement following the vote.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has become increasingly hostile to LGBT people both at home and abroad -- as its failed effort to unhinge U.N. benefits for married employees demonstrates.

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Thom Senzee