Biden will allow US embassies worldwide to fly Pride flag, reversing a Trump administration decision

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Biden will allow US embassies worldwide to fly Pride flag, reversing a Trump administration decision
The US flag and an LGBTQ pride flag on the front facade of the US Embassy in Moscow.Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken has given US embassies the greenlight to fly the Pride flag.
  • This reverses a decision from the Trump administration, which rejected requests to fly the flag.
  • The Biden administration is not making this mandatory, but allowing diplomats to decide.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has authorized US embassies to fly the Pride flag, according to a State Department cable first reported by Foreign Policy.

Blinken gave US diplomatic outposts the greenlight to fly the rainbow flag before May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and to keep it on display through Pride Month in June. But the top US diplomat in the cable also said that this was not mandatory, leaving it up to diplomats to "determine that such a display is appropriate in light of local conditions," per the New York Times, which also reviewed the cable.

The State Department confirmed to Insider that the Biden administration authorized embassies to fly the Pride flag.

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"President Biden believes that America's strength is found in its diversity. America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive," a State Department spokesperson told Insider. "Recognizing that each country context is different, U.S. embassies and consulates develop individual plans to raise awareness of violence, human rights abuses, and discrimination targeting LGBTQI+ persons, including appropriate exterior displays. " 

"If Chiefs of Mission determine that it is appropriate to do so, they may fly the Pride flag on external-facing flagpoles below the U.S. flag at U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas," the spokesperson added.

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This move reverses a decision from the Trump administration, which rejected requests from US embassies to fly the Pride flag. Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who publicly opposed same-sex marriage, said only the US flag should appear on the flagpole at US embassies.

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Vice President Mike Pence, who's espoused anti-gay views and supported anti-LGBTQ legislation, in a 2019 NBC News interview backed the Trump administration decision to prohibit embassies from flying the Pride flag. "When it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, having one American flag fly, I think is the right decision," Pence said at the time.

Some embassies sought to circumvent the Trump administration's directive by displaying the Pride flag on the building rather than the flag pole, such as the US Embassy in South Korea. But the embassy in Seoul ultimately took the Pride banner down as the Trump administration simultaneously ordered it to remove a Black Lives Matter banner also hanging on the building's facade.

The Biden administration's stance toward the LGBTQ community has shifted drastically from its predecessor.

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During his confirmation hearing in January, Blinken pledged to defend the rights of LGBTQ people and said he would allow US embassies to fly the Pride flag.

"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. "And so 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."

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