Secretary of State Antony Blinken has authorized U.S. embassies around the world to fly the rainbow Pride flag, according to a State Department cable first reported by Foreign Policy.
Blinken gave US diplomatic outposts the go-ahead 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.
Blinken noted in the cable that it was not mandatory and left 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.
“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.
This move reverses a controversial 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.
Vice President Mike Pence backed the Trump administration’s decision to prohibit embassies from flying the Pride flag during an interview with NBC News in 2019. “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.
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.”