International

U.S. Ambassador criticises India’s UN vote on LGBT benefits

U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Friday hit out at India’s decision earlier this week to side with nations that sought to reverse the United Nations Secretary-General’s decision to extend benefits to same-sex couples working at the multilateral organisation.

Speaking at an event organised by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Mr. Verma said, “We were disappointed… by India’s support this week for the attempt to strip benefits from United Nations staff in same-sex relationships,” adding, “We will continue to support the rights of LGBT individuals in India, in international institutions and around the world.”

The resolution introduced on Tuesday was however defeated with 80 nations voting ‘nay’ and 37 countries abstaining, which effectively implied the UN was free to extend benefits to partners of LGBT employees.

While the Ambassador was upbeat about the growing rapprochement between Washington and New Delhi especially since U.S. President Barack Obama visited India in January, he said, “It does not mean that we will be free from disputes or disagreements. Quite the contrary.”

Mr. Verma also reflected on the significant contributions of Indian-Americans to the deepening bilateral partnership, and exhorted successful professional Indian-Americans to do more to support those from their community who had been less fortunate.

“The Indian-American community, and the South-Asian-American community more broadly, needs to be a voice for those people that don’t have a voice,” he said, questioning the presumption that most Indian-Americans have elevated to a level of professional achievement as doctors, lawyers or engineers.

“Not everyone has made it, not everyone is making it, and not everyone always gets a fair shot. I’d encourage the community to stand up for those people whenever they can,” the Ambassador added.

Touching upon economic cooperation and the civil nuclear agreement, Mr. Verma underscored the importance of the contact group, led by himself and Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, in taking forward the significant progress achieved during the time of Mr. Obama’s visit.

“If we had a strategic partnership before the [January] visit of [President Obama], we now have a strategic-plus partnership,” Mr. Verma said, noting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker would in future co-lead the inaugural India-U.S. Strategic and Commercial Bilateral Dialogue.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 11:56:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-ambassador-criticises-indias-un-vote-on-lgbt-benefits/article7041525.ece

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