A Russian attempt to prevent staff benefits from being extended to gay couples was defeated at the United Nations on Tuesday. The proposal saw 80 votes to extend staff benefits to same-sex couples working at the UN, regardless of whether gay marriage was legal in their country, scoring a majority over the 43 countries that supported Russia's measure, which included some familiar faces, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan ‒ and India.

"We must speak plainly about what Russia tried to do today: diminish the authority of the UN Secretary-General and export to the UN its domestic hostility to LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] rights," said Samantha Power, the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, in a statement after the vote.

Until last year, the UN accorded benefits to same-sex couples based on the law that existed in their home countries. In 2014, however, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that the UN would extend benefits to all gay couples, regardless of the legal of gay partnerships in their countries. However, Russia asked the UN Budget Committee to overturn this decision. Reuters reported Russia's deputy UN ambassador saying before the vote that the previous approach to base benefits off the existing law in home countries "was an example of how the United Nations respects cultural differences, the sovereign right of each and every state to determine its norms". Which might explain why India decided to vote with Russia as well as Iran and Saudi Arabia to support this move, even though 37 countries abstained and 34 chose not to vote at all.

New Delhi has always maintained the need for individual nations to make decision based on their own laws. But that approach can often clump India in with unfortunate company. Not only does India fail to allow gay unions, it is among the nations in which gay sex is a criminal offence. India's Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the Union tweeted about the vote after it was clear the Russian proposal had failed, although he offered no comment on the matter.  

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was struck down after a High Court hearing in 2009, was infamously resurrected by the Indian Supreme Court last year, which said that the matter should be left to Parliament. Although a few political parties have spoken out against section 377, it is unlikely that the matter will see legislative intervention anytime soon. The country also has an uncomfortable relationship with gay diplomats.

The section, for example, was used almost as a threat against American diplomats in 2013, when Indo-US ties were at a low. Other same-sex diplomats routinely complain about difficulties in bring their spouses or travelling around the country. As of now, the government has made it clear that it has no intention of altering its stance to gay rights, whether at home or abroad.