Blinken to Allow Pride Flag to Fly at US Embassies A rainbow flag, commonly known as the gay pride flag or LGBT pride flag, is seen hanging on the facade of the the U.S. Embassy building on June 25, 2020 in Moscow, Russia. (Alexey Maishev/Sputnik via AP)
By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 23 April 2021 09:43 AM
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will allow U.S. diplomatic outposts to fly the Pride flag alongside the U.S. flag, in a reversal from the State Department under his predecessor, Mike Pompeo.
Blinken, in a confidential cable obtained by Foreign Policy, gave the authorization to fly the Pride flag ahead of May 17, which is the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, and before Pride month begins in June.
However, this authorization does include a caveat saying that the heads of a mission or embassy can choose whether or not to fly the flag based on if it’s "appropriate in light of local conditions."
One internal State Department cable warns that in certain countries, expressing support for legalizing or decriminalizing same-sex relationships could hurt U.S. diplomatic efforts.
"Posts should support efforts to repeal [criminalization] legislation, while ensuring that ‘do no harm’ remains our overarching principle so U.S. efforts do not inadvertently result in backlash or further marginalization of the LGBTQI+ community," according to the cable.
Pompeo prohibited embassies from flying the Pride flag on the same pole as the U.S. flag, saying that they would instead display symbols of Pride elsewhere. Then-Vice President Mike Pence said at the time that "when it comes to the American flagpole and American embassies and capitals around the world, one American flag flies."
Foreign Policy notes that by law, all U.S. diplomatic missions fly the foreign service flag or prisoner of war/missing in action under the U.S. flag, but require prior permission to fly any additional flags.
"Chiefs of Mission are the president’s direct representatives overseas," said a spokesperson for the State Department, when asked about the 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."
Blinken previously promised to support LGBTQ rights as secretary, including allowing the Pride flag at embassies.
"We've seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase. We've seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we've seen ever," Blinken said during his confirmation hearing, according to CNN.
"I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately," he said.