The United Nations will now recognize and provide equal benefits to legal same-sex marriages of its staff members despite the laws of their home country.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the news Monday at the world body.
Prior to Monday's announcement, a staff member's personal status was based solely on the laws of their country of nationality, said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq.
"Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations," said Ki-moon. "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."
— Free & Equal (@free_equal) January 8, 2014
Now the United Nations will recognize all same-sex couples, but only couples married in a country where it is legal, of which there are currently 18.
"The Secretary-General said human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations," Haq said. "He's proud to stand for greater equality for all staff. He also calls on all members of the U.N. family to unite in rejecting homophobia."
— Instinct Magazine (@instinctmag) July 4, 2014
"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," said Hyung Hak Nam.
"This includes the UNJSPF, our pension fund. In fact, with this new policy in place at the UN, it is my hope that the pension fund will be under a lot of pressure to change its discriminatory policies towards staff. And we will be front and center advocating for change."
The new policy became effective June 26, and will affect the U.N.'s estimated 43,000 employees worldwide.
Employees of other U.N. agencies, including the children's agency UNICEF and the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, are not under the new guidelines, Haq said.
Image via YouTube