United Nations: At a time when there is a raging debate calling for decriminalising gay sex back home, India has supported a Russian-drafted resolution that opposed benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff but it failed to pass in the General Assembly committee.
The Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, that deals with administrative and budgetary issues, voted against the Russian proposal on Wednesday that aimed at stopping the UN from offering marital benefits to its employees with same-sex spouses. 80 nations voted against denying these benefits.
The resolution would have had UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdraw his policy laying out the United Nations current rules for the personal status of staff members for determining their benefits and entitlements.
The policy made by Ban in summer 2014 had recognised same-sex marriages of all UN staffers, allowing them to receive UN benefits.
India, along with China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE voted in favour of the draft resolution, which had 37 abstentions.
Same-sex relations are a criminal offence in India after the Supreme Court had in 2013 overturned a Delhi High Court judgement that decriminalised gay sex in 2009.
The High Court judgement was widely welcomed by the liberal sections of society along with the LGBT community and ever since the reversal by the Supreme Court there have been demands for again decriminalising it.
Under the new UN policy on the personal status of same-sex couples, which became effective on June 26, 2014, the world body recognised all same-sex couples married in a country where it is legal, regardless of their nationality. About 40,000 UN staff across the world came under the purview of the policy.
Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that the Secretary General "does appreciate the support of those who recognized his authority as Chief Administrative Officer as per the UN Charter."