Trump Is Now Denying Visas to Same-Sex Partners of Foreign Diplomatic Officials

What does this policy mean for LGBTQ diplomats?

Trump’s new visa policy mandates that same-sex partners of diplomats must be married Photo by iStock

Imagine that you’re a lesbian in Switzerland who’s fluent in three languages. You’re an educator by profession, and you’ve built a successful online business teaching English, French, and German. Your longtime partner, who is also multilingual, has a brilliant career in international affairs. You’re both Swiss nationals. With your superb educations, language skills, and professional credentials, the two of you could live almost anywhere in the world.

So when your partner lands a plum job at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York, you think: Wonderful! I’ll start packing! Except, wait… no, you’re not allowed to accompany her to the States. What?! That’s correct. You can’t join her—not longer than a few months, anyway—since you’re not married, and same-sex marriage is still not legal in Switzerland. Because the U.S. president, Donald Trump, says you can’t get a visa to enter the country with your diplomat partner unless you’re married.

Now in this dramatization, we’re talking about Switzerland, one of the European countries the U.S. treats nicely. It’s one of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. Swiss nationals can travel to the U.S. for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. But what happens after that? Your partner just got a job in New York. Does the new policy mean you have to return home after 90 days and be separated?

YES.

This is now actually happening, folks. It’s not some imaginary nightmare scenario. It’s a new reality.

Trump’s new visa policy mandates that same-sex partners of diplomats must be married—even if they’re from countries that do not have marriage equality. (And if you’re not from one of the VWP countries, you don’t even get 90 days together. You don’t get to come here at all.)

On Monday, the Trump-Pence administration began rejecting visa applications from same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. employees. It gets even worse: Same-sex partners of foreign diplomats who already live in the U.S. are now required to get married by the end of 2018 or leave the country.

Yesterday, the Human Rights Commission issued an official response to the discriminatory policy:

“This is an unconscionable, needless attack on some LGBTQ diplomats from around the world, and it reflects the hostility of the Trump-Pence administration toward LGBTQ people,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “It is unnecessary, mean-spirited, and unacceptable. The White House must immediately go back to a policy that is fully inclusive and takes into account the dangers faced by LGBTQ foreign diplomats, U.N. employees, and their families.”