Secretary of State Antony Blinken has given blanket approval for U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to fly the rainbow LGBT pride flag on the same pole as the American flag.
Blinken’s directive reversed the policy of the Trump administration under former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who refused requests from embassies to fly the rainbow flag and the American flag together, according to a Friday report from Foreign Policy. The State Department under Pompeo permitted pride-related paraphernalia elsewhere.
According to a confidential cable reviewed by Foreign Policy, Blinken authorized diplomats to unfurl the rainbow flag ahead of May 17, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. June commemorates Pride month in the United States and many other countries.
As Foreign Policy reported:
The cable contained a hedge, though, saying the authorization is not a requirement and chiefs of mission who run each embassy or consulate can choose whether to fly the Pride flag or showcase other symbols connoting support for LGBTQ rights based on what is “appropriate in light of local conditions.”
In 2019, then-Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump administration’s reticence to allow a sexuality-related flag to fly on the same pole as the flag representing the nation. “As the president said on the night we were elected, we’re proud to be able to serve every American. We both feel that way very passionately, but when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies,” he told NBC News.
As Foreign Policy further reported:
Some U.S. embassies worked around the Trump-era directive. The U.S. Embassy in South Korea, for instance, displayed a large Pride flag on its facade, rather than on a flagpole. It later removed the flag at the same time as the State Department ordered it to remove a Black Lives Matter banner.
All U.S. diplomatic missions require prior written approval from senior State Department leadership in Washington to fly any flag from the same halyard as the U.S. flag, with the exception of a foreign service flag or a prisoner of war/missing in action flag. In accordance with U.S. law, such flags are to be flown under the U.S. flag.
“Chiefs of Mission are the president’s direct representatives overseas,” a State Department spokesperson told Foreign Policy. “The Department supports their prerogative to manage mission operations to maximize their effectiveness in that role, within the confines of U.S. law and regulation.”
Reached for comment by the New York Post, the State Department further said: “President Biden believes that America’s strength is found in its diversity. America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive.”
“Recognizing that each country context is different, U.S. embassies and consulates develop individual plans to raise awareness of violence, human rights abuses, and discrimination targeting LGBTQI+ persons, including appropriate exterior displays,” the statement added.
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