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Joe Biden administration to let embassies fly the Pride flag on the same pole as the US flag

Josh Milton April 23, 2021
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US embassy pride flag

An employee fixes the US national flag by an LGBT Pride flag on the front facade of the US Embassy in Moscow. (Getty)

The Biden-Harris administration has given blanket approval for US embassies to fly the LGBT+ Pride flag on the same flagpole as the US flag.

Secretary of state Antony Blinken has made good on his vow to authorise US diplomatic outposts across the world to fly both flags with, well, pride from the same halyard.

In doing so, Blinken overturned a Trump-era ban that paves the way for envoys to fly them before 17 May, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and Pride Month in June.

According to a confidential cable reviewed by Foreign Policy, while the directive removes both the ban and some red tape, embassy and consulate bosses will not be required to fly the flag.

Instead, it stressed, chiefs of missions will be given the choice to hoist the flag or some other kind of symbol that shows solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

Such symbols will be based on what is “appropriate in light of local conditions”, Blinken’s cable said. Taking into account how the flag may be too provocative in countries and regions that do not look favourably on LGBT+ rights.

“Posts should support efforts to repeal [criminalisation] legislation while ensuring that ‘do no harm’ remains our overarching principle so US efforts do not inadvertently result in backlash or further marginalisation of the LGBTQI+ community,” the cable read.

Currently, US diplomatic missions must seek written approval to fly non-US flags from senior State Department leadership – but Blinken’s cable removes this formality completely for LGBT+ Pride flags.

In 2019, then secretary of state Mike Pompeo barred US embassies from flying the rainbow flag ahead of Pride Month.

State Department officials at the time said that “only the American flag should be flown there”, France24 reported.

As much as the Trump administration denied embassies from flying rainbow flags to celebrate Pride Month, many found creative workarounds to not breach the ban.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem unfurled the Pride flags on the sides of the building, as well as lace it with bunting.

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 in Oslo, Norway, and Seoul, South Korea, also marked Pride Month by decking out the façades of the buildings – rather than flagpoles – with rainbows.

Alongside pledging to allow embassies to fly Pride flags again, Blinken also promised to finally fill the role of LGBT+ envoy and officially repudiate the findings of Trump’s anti-LGBT+ “Commission on Unalienable Rights“.

Related topics: joe biden, Pride, pride flag

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