India, along with 42 other countries, voted in favour of a Russian-drafted resolution that opposed marital benefits for same-sex partners of the United Nations (UN) staff in the General Assembly committee. The resolution, however, failed to pass with 80 nations opposing it.
The Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with administrative and budgetary issues, voted against the proposal on Monday. Countries that supported the resolution included China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India supported the resolution because a practice at the UN was being changed by its secretariat without consulting the member countries.
Until recently, the UN followed a system under which the benefits were decided on the basis of the law of the country the individual was from, and same-sex relations are a criminal offence in India.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon changed the policy last summer recognising same-sex marriages of all UN staffers and allowing them to receive UN benefits. “Our objection was against the change by the secretariat without consulting the countries,” Akbaruddin added.
Under the new policy in place since June last year, the UN recognises same-sex couples as married in a country where it is legal, irrespective of their nationality. The resolution would have had Ban withdraw his policy that lay out the current rules for the personal status of staff members and for determining their benefits and entitlements.
In India, same-sex relations have been a criminal offence since 2013 when the Supreme Court overturned a Delhi high court judgment that decriminalised gay sex in 2011.