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US embassy takes down Pride and Black Lives Matter banners on same day Supreme Court defies Trump on LGBT+ rights

Lily Wakefield June 16, 2020
US embassy Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter disappeared after just two days. (US Embassy Seoul/ Twitter)

The US embassy in Seoul raised Black Lives Matter and LGBT+ Pride banners in solidarity with protesters and with the queer community, but quietly removed them just days later.

The embassy mounted a rainbow flag at the beginning of Pride month, which the embassy said was in “support of fundamental freedoms and human rights for all”.

It revealed the Black Lives Matter banner on Twitter on Saturday (June 13) and wrote: “The US Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change.

“Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive and just society.”

US ambassador to Korea Harry Harris added: “I believe in what President JFK said on June 10, 1963, at American University: ‘If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.’

“USA is a free and diverse nation…from that diversity we gain our strength.”

But just two days later, on Monday (June 15), the Black Lives Matter banner was quietly removed, and the Pride flag had also mysteriously disappeared.

They were replaced a day later with a banner marking the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the official explanation from the embassy did not mention the Pride flag, but said the Black Lives Matter banner was taken down to avoid perception that it supported “donations to any specific organisation”.

But activists in Korea told the publication they suspect that there may have been instructions from the Trump administration, as anti-racism protests continue across the US and the president once again ignores Pride Month. 

Lee Tae-ho, an activist with the Seoul organisation People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, said the banners were “a very positive thing that could improve the US image”, and added: “If the removal was really made because of pressure made by Trump … I think what they did was unhelpful for the US.”

A Trump administration effort to strip queer rights was defeated on Monday with the Supreme Court’s ruling that LGBT+ people are entitled to civil rights employment protections.

As queer activists celebrated the win, Trump responded: “They’ve ruled. I’ve read the decision, and some people were surprised, but they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.”

More: black lives matter, LGBT pride flag, Pride month, Seoul, us embassy

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