The United Nations has announced that it will globally extend its employee benefits to workers in same-sex marriages or other unions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the change yesterday, stating: “Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations.

“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 move will impact the UN’s over 44,000 staff across the globe.

Hyung Hak Nam, of LGBTI group UN-GLOBE, said: “It is with great pleasure that I would like to inform you that, at long last, the UN will begin recognizing staff members’ legal same-sex unions.

“What this means is simple: if you a staff member in a legal union, the UN will recognize it. If you were thinking of entering into one, you can now do so with the full knowledge that the UN will recognize it.

“Too many of us have suffered under the previous policy. Too many of us have been unable to secure, for example, residency visas, and health benefits for our spouses because of a discriminatory policy that would refuse to recognize our legal partners.

“This discriminatory practice is now gone.

“With this new policy in place at the UN, I believe that the entire UN system will follow suit, if history is any guide. And if any agency, fund, or programme still refuses to change, we will make sure they hear from us.

“Much still remains to be done. We have to address homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. We have to make sure staff members’ sons and daughters— our families, not only our partners— are recognized.

“The UN is finally starting to listen, and to act, much to its credit.”

Ugandan minister Sam Kutesa, who backed his country’s harsh anti-gay laws, was appointed as President of the United Nations General Assembly last month.