The President of the United States, Joe Biden has given his approval for U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world to fly the Pride flag, synonymous with the LGBTQ, on the same flagpole as the U.S flags at their embassy or consulate.
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who made the announcement on Thursday, said the order was a blanket authorization for showcasing support for LGBTQ rights.
The directive marks a departure from how the Donald Trump administration handled the matter while the State Department was run by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In a confidential cable sent to diplomatic posts around the world, Blinken gave authority for diplomats to fly the Pride flag before May 17, which marks the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, as well as in June, which, in the United States and many other countries, is the Pride Month.
The cable, however, cautioned that the authorization is not a requirement and chiefs of mission who run each embassy or consulate can choose whether to fly the Pride flag or showcase other symbols connoting support for LGBTQ rights based on what is “appropriate in light of local conditions.”
Flying the Pride flag at U.S. embassies became a point of contention during the Trump era, when, under Pompeo, the State Department blocked embassies’ requests to fly the flag on the same flagpole as the U.S. banner.
Diplomats were told they could display Pride symbols elsewhere in embassies.
In 2019, then-Vice President Mike Pence defended the move, saying that “when it comes to the American flagpole and American embassies and capitals around the world, one American flag flies.”
Some U.S. embassies worked around the Trump-era directive. The U.S. Embassy in South Korea, for instance, displayed a large Pride flag on its facade, rather than on a flagpole. It later removed the flag at the same time as the State Department ordered it to remove a Black Lives Matter banner.