At United States embassies, the Pride rainbow can now fly alongside the stars and stripes.
In a confidential memo obtained by Foreign Policy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken authorized all American embassies and consulates around the world to display the LGBTQ Pride flag on the same flagpole as the American one – something the Trump administration had forbidden.
The change of policy comes in time for Pride Month, in June, and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, on 17 May.
The memo did not make the display a requirement, however, and advised embassies to decide whether flying the rainbow was “appropriate in light of local conditions.”
Mr Blinken’s predecessor, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, had banned embassies from flying the Pride flag on the same pole as the national banner, but allowed them to display LGBTQ symbols in other areas.
“When it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies,” former vice president Mike Pence told NBC in defense of the policy.
The ban came as a shock to US delegations, many of which had been raising the rainbow banner during Pride Month since 2011. In 2019, many US embassies defied or found a way around the new policy, something one anonymous diplomat called a “category one insurrection.”
That conflict, it appears, is now over.
On Friday, the State Department dryly defended the new policy in a statement to Foreign Policy.
“Chiefs of Mission are the president’s direct representatives overseas,” a spokesman for the department said. “The Department supports their prerogative to manage mission operations to maximize their effectiveness in that role, within the confines of US law and regulation.”
Mr Blinken first promised to allow the return of Pride flags at embassies at his confirmation hearing, where he also said he would appoint a special envoy for LGBTI rights.
“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 told Congress.
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