Ingeborg van Teeseling

Equality through inequality: The UN banning existing visas for LGBTQ partners a decision of the time

un

The UN banning unmarried LGBTQ partners from obtaining a visa is a decision of the time. Through exclusion, everyone is equal. 

 

 

Poor Christine Lagarde. Did you know that every time the boss of the International Monetary Fund goes to the US, she has to leave her boyfriend behind in Paris? See, I had no idea, but the Americans, good Puritans that they are, don’t allow the staff of the UN, IMF or World Bank to bring their partners unless they are married. So far, they have made an exception for LGBTQ personnel, but that – thank God – will change today. “Effective immediately”, Trump’s State Department has said, so-called spousal visas will only be given to people who can submit the proper paperwork. Bummer if same-sex marriage in your country is not allowed, or if your government would rather execute you than accept what you do in the bedroom. Trump’s bureaucrats are clear: either you get married, or you get out.

Of course, their argument is fairness; the change is “to help ensure and promote equal treatment”, and because straight couples have to be married to get the visa, so do people who are not straight. First of all, let me say that this is a load of hooey, to use that beautiful American word. The measure would only be impartial if everybody had the same opportunities to get married. As it stands, even Australians were only allowed that possibility five minutes ago, and about 150 of the 190 countries that are members of the UN do not like to see same-sex people holding hands, let alone tying the knot. So very little equality there. But my biggest bugbear is the issue of marriage in general. I (and I am sure Christine Lagarde agrees with me) do not see what the institute of marriage has to do with love. Or a relationship. Or bureaucrats. Or a visa.

I know government pen pushers like paperwork. I’ve got a whole shelf dedicated to my own visa correspondence. The Australians too wanted me to get married. No wedding, no visa, no relationship, no time in your (sorry, my) beautiful country. I always found the interest in my sexual mores a little kinky, to tell you the truth. What does it matter what I do in bed (or elsewhere, for that matter)? Why do public servants want to know? Is it the actual paper that they get off on? Maybe sniffing it is what excites them? Or is it the fact that they can put up boundaries, rules that only they themselves can then administer? Is it a power trip? A “we decide who comes into this country…”? Because, seriously, what does it matter? Married, not married, in a relationship even? Apparently, Qantas put in a new rule for their staff discount a few years ago. Beforehand, you could only take family members on cheaper trips. Now our national carrier lets you nominate anybody you want. A person I know used this system to pay her builder in cheap flights instead of money. But see, only Australians can come up with creative solutions like that.

America under Trump is all about building walls. So 1939.

 

Ingeborg van Teeseling

After migrating from Holland ten years ago and being warned by the Immigration Department against doing her job as a journalist, Ingeborg van Teeseling became a historian instead. She endeavours to explain Australia to migrants new and old at her website www.australia-explained.com.au, and runs www.lifebooks.com.au, telling people's life stories.

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