Russia tries to block UN from providing benefits to gay employees

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Russia is trying to block the United Nations from opening up its employee benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

The UN announced last July that it would globally extend its employee benefits to workers in same-sex marriages or other unions – irrespective of whether they are recognised locally.

However, the move – which had been set to benefit the UN’s 44,000 staff across the globe – has faced eleventh-hour opposition from Russian diplomats, who object to any recognition of same-sex unions.

On Monday, a Russian diplomat demanded that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reverse the decision – threatening to force a vote in the budget committee that could lead to a humiliating defeat for the UN leadership.

The diplomat claimed the measure “violates the sovereign rights of members states to determine the legal framework of [the] life of their citizens”, and added: “We will insist that the Secretary-General urgently revoke the administrative bulletin.”

Russia’s spokesman Alexey Zaytsev told Foreign Policy: “For us it is a very important issue.

“We would prefer to make a decision…by consensus but if some delegations do not demonstrate a constructive approach to the concerns raised by us and shared by many other member states, then we’ll have no other choice but to call for a vote.”

Jessica Stern of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said: “[Russia] is looking for any excuse to curtail the UN Secretary-General’s authority.

“It’s no secret that the Secretary-General and Russia have been at cross-purposes over Ukraine and Syria, and the Russians have found the perfect political vehicle for attacking him.”