Several U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions around the world have been spotted hoisting rainbow flags in honor of Pride Month, despite a string of rejections from the Trump administration of requests to fly the iconic flag.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that some U.S. diplomats have been finding ways to defy, or at least get around, the new policy.
Diplomatic missions in Seoul, Korea and Chennai, India sent out a press release and a video advertising the flag hanging outside their respective buildings, while the U.S. embassy in New Delhi updated its Twitter cover photo showing a rainbow projected on it.
The U.S. embassy in Santiago, Chile uploaded a video to its website of a diplomat flying a rainbow flag last month for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and the website for the Vienna embassy features a photo of the same flag.
Several ambassadors and diplomats have also been spotted participating in Pride festivities, whether going to parades or celebrating at their embassies.
Today, along with the U.S. Mission in Nepal community, I join people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Intersex #PrideMonth, and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to defending human rights for all. #Pride2019 pic.twitter.com/5awKWtcP80
— Ambassador Randy Berry (@USAmbNepal) June 1, 2019
The sightings come after the State Department rejected requests from several embassies to fly the rainbow Pride flag on flagpoles this month, NBC News reported on Friday.
“This is a category one insurrection,” one diplomat told the Post, speaking anonymously out of fear of being fired.
The Post reports:
The flap over the flags started when the State Department did not send out an official cable this year with guidelines for marking Pride Month, as it has in years past. In 2011, the Obama administration directed agencies involved with foreign policy to promote LGBT rights, a striking policy for an agency that, up to the early 1990s, considered homosexuality a security risk and cause for termination.
The Obama administration’s Pride Month guidelines included rules for flying rainbow flags from poles outside embassies — they had to be smaller than the American flag and fly beneath it. But permission was granted with no fuss. By 2016, approvals were left up to each ambassador or chief of mission.
That process changed last year, after Mike Pompeo became secretary of state. An evangelical Christian who believes marriage should be defined as between a man and woman, Pompeo has said gay employees will be respected and treated like everyone else. But he has downplayed some symbols of LGBT rights, while introducing several new panels and envoys specializing in religious freedom issues. The advisory cable that came out last year said diplomats are required to obtain top-level approval from the State Department’s Office of Management to fly a rainbow flag.
Two diplomats familiar with the events told the Post that all requests to fly rainbow flags were approved last year.
This year, however, embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia, plus a handful of other posts, were denied requests to fly rainbow flags.