New Delhi: India today justified voting against benefits for same-sex partners working at the UN, saying countries were “not consulted” on the plan.
Asserting that India does not want UN Secretary General to decide on the benefits or perks given to its nationals working in the UN, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “It was a complex issue of nationals of a state should be governed by their laws or governed by decisions of others.”
India was among the 43 countries along with China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia that voted in support of a Russia-drafted resolution that proposed removing benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff. But the resolution failed to pass in the General Assembly committee after 80 nations opposed it.
Reacting to a query on India's voting choice, the Spokesperson said, “The UN had until recently a system whereby they will decide on sort of emoluments or privileges for partners of spouses depending on the law of the country from which that individual hails.”
“In the sense it was that what governs you as an individual in your country will be the basis on which the UN would give you those benefits or perks or those entitlements. This was the established practice and had been approved by the UN General Assembly and accepted by every UN organisation,” Akbaruddin said.
“What happened more recently was the UN Secretary General of his own accord changed that. So, our objection was one of change by the secretariat without consulting countries concerned about this...It is a complex issue of our nationals of a state governed by their laws or governed by decisions of others.
“I think that's what was the basis on which a decision was taken to vote on that resolution. That's the substantive interpretation or substantive explanation of why we have voted on that resolution in the manner we did,” he said.
The resolution would have had UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdraw his policy laying out the UN current rules for the personal status of staff members for determining their benefits and entitlements.
The policy made by Ban last summer had recognised same-sex marriages of all UN staffers, allowing them to receive UN benefits. However, in India the same sex partners have no legal sanctity.