Some U.S. diplomats have sought to defy or otherwise circumvent a Trump administration directive in which the State Department will reject all requests of embassies seeking to fly rainbow flags during LGBTQ Pride Month this year, The Washington Post reports.
Presently, the exterior facades of the U.S. missions in Seoul and Chennai, India, are each partially hidden by large rainbow flags. The embassy in New Delhi is lit up with rainbow colored lights. The website for the Santiago, Chile, embassy now shows a video of their chief diplomat hoisting a rainbow flag last month in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
On a similar note, the Vienna embassy’s website includes a photo of a rainbow flag flying below the U.S. flag on a mast protruding from their building. The site also includes a statement from Diplomats for Equality and a story including a professor lecturing on LGBTQ rights.
Diplomats in Jerusalem promoted their participation in a march for Pride and tolerance, with a number of ambassadors tweeting out photos of themselves in the parades and standing outside the embassy spelling out the word “pride,” complete with rainbow garb.
The demonstrations come as the State Department has started to automatically reject any and all requests to fly the rainbow flag over embassies abroad. For most of the decade, such practices were approved as a matter of routine, but now require top-level approval from the department. This year, for the first time, all requests were rejected.
Embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil, and Latvia, plus a number of others, requested to fly rainbow flags. Each was denied, according to a person at the State Department familiar with the matter. According to two diplomats, all requests made last year were approved.
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 State Department has so far declined to answer questions about the rainbow flag ban. Although, for the most part, embassies seem to be complying with the order, those mentioned previously have looked to take a stand against the prohibition.
“This is a category one insurrection,” said one diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“Day by day, a death by a thousand cuts, our rights as lgbt+ Americans are being eroded with the removal of a guidance here, the rewriting of a policy there, or just the quiet disappearance of a web site,” wrote Robyn McCutcheon, a transgender woman who has served in several posts abroad. “It should come as no surprise that this erosion would happen also at the U.S. Department of State.”