Russia calls for UN vote to block benefits for gay staff

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Russia is attempting to force a vote to ban the United Nations from providing benefits to staff with same-sex spouses.

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 – faced eleventh-hour opposition from Russian diplomats, who object to any recognition of same-sex unions.

Russia has now pushed for a vote in the issue in the UN’s General Assembly Fifth Committee, which deals with the UN budget.

If the matter does go to a vote, it is possible Russia will win – which would prevent the United Nations from providing benefits to same-sex spouses outside of countries where their marriages are legal.

According to Reuters, the Fifth Committee’s website now states that “action” will be taken on the issue on Tuesday, when the clash is likely to come to a head unless Russia backs down.

Russia’s spokesman Alexey Zaytsev previously threatened: “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 previously: “[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.”