Out MPs Nigel Evans and Angela Eagle raise embassy flag ‘ban’ in Parliament
Tory MP Nigel Evans and Labour’s Angela Eagle have both raised in Parliament the continued enforcement of regulations blocking British embassies flying anything other than the Union Flag.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond came under fire earlier this month over a memo to British embassies reminding them of existing policy that blocks any flag other than the Union Flag being flown – including the NATO flag and the rainbow flag.
In 2008 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the decision to fly Pride flags could be “taken up by each embassy” – but a universal flag policy was later re-enforced.
The FCO confirmed to PinkNews earlier this month: “The Union flag always takes priority and is flown from the FCO’s main flag pole at all times. It is never substituted for another flag.”
Labour’s Shadow Commons Leader Angela Eagle, who is running to be her party’s Deputy Leader, said: “As I dust off my pink Stetson, ready to join the LGBT community at Pride, does the Leader of the House agree that we need to redouble our efforts to root out prejudice and discrimination at home and abroad? Does he agree that the Foreign Secretary’s decision to ban the Pride flag from being flown at UK embassies around the world sends exactly the wrong signal?”
Mr Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley, said: “I do not have a pink T-shirt or even the use of a pink bus, but this weekend hundreds of thousands of people will be celebrating the diversity and equality that we all cherish in this country. Unfortunately, in about 80 countries people cannot do that because it is illegal.
“Will the Leader of the House please have a word with the Foreign Secretary about the displaying of the rainbow flag over the Foreign Office and high commissions and embassies throughout the world?
“That would send the important signal that we stand by the side of those who are oppressed, and indeed, in some cases, those who fear death for the crime of being born gay.”
Mr Grayling responded to Ms Eagle: “On hate crime, I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady. It is not simply a matter of those in the LGBT community; in other parts of society hate crime is wholly unacceptable in whatever form—in relation to sex, colour, creed or whatever. All of us in the House should deprecate it and we should always seek to ensure that our authorities deal with it in the appropriate way.
“I hear the hon. Lady’s comments about flags. She will no doubt raise that question also with the Foreign Secretary. There are many countries around the world which need to change their approach to gay rights and I very much hope they will do so.”
He told Mr Evans: “I am happy to communicate the issue to my right hon. Friend. I am very sympathetic to the work that has been done to address this around the world.
“As I said earlier, it is shocking that many countries still regard homosexuality as illegal. All of us in this House should work to end that.”