Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Monday that the United Nation's would recognize same sex marriage for its roughly 43,000 staff members worldwide.
"Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, according to the Huffington Post. "I am proud to stand for greater equality for all staff, and I call on all members of our UN family to unite in rejecting homophobia as discrimination that can never be tolerated at our workplace." The organization had previously restricted recognition of same-sex marriage to employees from the 17 countries where gay marriage is currently legal.
The move by the United Nations comes amid criticism from LGBT rights groups after Sam Kutesa, a staunch ally of Uganda's President Uweri Museveni, was appointed President of the U.N. General Assembly. Human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have decried Mr. Museveni's brutal crackdown on homosexuality in Uganda, including a recent law imposing lifetime sentences for those convicted of being in same-sex relationships.
While the announcement covers U.N. staff, employees of some 50 affiliated agencies such as UNICEF and UNESCO will be unchanged. UN-GLOBE, the association that represents the U.N.'s LGBT members was cautiously optimistic.
“Let me reiterate UN-GLOBE's belief that the fairest policy would have been an affidavit policy, as it would have covered general service, national and even some international staff who, under the newly adopted policy, may not be able to secure visas, nor have the resources, to travel to a country where legal unions are performed,” UN-GLOBE President Hyung Hak "Alfonso" Nam told the Huffington Post. “But for now, I would say this: at long last. Let us just enjoy this moment, this huge victory.”