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Banned from flying rainbow flags, US embassies hang them instead

Nick Duffy June 15, 2019
The US Embassy branch office in Tel Aviv, Israel hung rainbow flags

The US Embassy branch office in Tel Aviv, Israel hung rainbow flags (US Embassy Jerusalem)

US embassies and consulates are coming up with creative solutions to get around the Trump administration’s ban on flying rainbow flags.

Ahead of Pride Month, the Trump administration denied permission for US embassies around the world to fly rainbow flags for the event.

Rainbow flags had been permitted in previous years under Obama-era rules, but Vice President Mike Pence confirmed a change in policy.

The anti-LGBT politician told NBC: “I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flag pole of our American embassies that one flag should fly, and that’s the American flag, and I support that.”

Flagpole ban hasn’t stopped US embassies from showing their pride

However, the official ban on flying rainbow flags from flag poles hasn’t stopped some embassies from doing their best to visibly mark the occasion.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem tweeted a photo of its Tel Aviv branch office decked out in rainbow colours on Thursday (June 13) ahead of the Tel Aviv Pride march, with two large rainbows adorning the sides of the building and rainbow bunting streaming down its centre.

The tweet reads: “The US Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv is ready for the PRIDE parade tomorrow!”

The US embassy in Jerusalem tweeted the photo of rainbow flags
The US embassy in Jerusalem tweeted the photo of rainbow flags

US embassies in Oslo, Norway and Seoul, South Korea also opted to hang rainbow flags from their facades to mark local Pride festivities, alongside a consulate in Chennai, India.

As the State Department’s directions only prohibit diplomatic missions from flying rainbow flags from flag poles, the actions aren’t technically in breach of the policy.

US Embassies in Germany, Brazil and Latvia were among those who sought permission to fly the rainbow flag to mark Pride.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said: “Pride Month, that we’re in right now, is celebrated around the world by many state department employees, by many embassies.

“The secretary [Mike Pompeo] has the position that, as it relates to the flagpole, that only the American flag should be flown there.”

Trump’s Secretary of State has an anti-LGBT record

Pompeo, who became Trump’s Secretary of State in 2018, has a long record of anti-LGBT stances as a lawmaker.

As a GOP lawmaker Pompeo was co-sponsor of the State Marriage Defense Act, a proposed law that would have allowed states to continue to refuse recognition of same-sex unions.

He also co-sponsored the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would have issued a ‘license to discriminate’ against LGBT people based on religion.

Secretary of State Mike Pomeo issued the rainbow flags ban
Secretary of State Mike Pomeo issued the rainbow flags ban

Defending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which banned openly gay soldiers in the military, he claimed that “when you enter the army you give up a few of your rights,” before claiming: “We cannot use military to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of our nation.”

When the US Supreme Court found that gay couples had a constitutional right to get married, Pompeo said he was “deeply saddened” by the ruling, branding it a “shocking abuse of power.”

During his confirmation hearings, Pompeo refused to say whether he still stands by comments describing homosexuality as a “perversion.”

Quoting Pompeo’s past comments, Senator Cory Booker said: “In a speech, you [warned about] an America that endorses a perversion and calls it an alternative lifestyle. Those are your words. Is being gay a perversion?”

Pompeo squirmed but ultimately failed to answer the question.

He said: “Senator, when I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry. I stand by that.”

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