In recognition of LGBTQ rights, the US government has instructed its embassies around the world to display the Gay Pride flag alongside the US flag on the same flagpole as the US flag.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a blanket permission for US diplomatic outposts around the world to fly the Pride flag, a step that contrasts sharply with Trump’s State Department, which was led by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Blinken authorized diplomats to fly the Pride flag before May 17, which is the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, and June, which is Pride month in the United States and many other countries, in diplomatic cables sent around the world.
However, the cable included a clause stating that the authorization is not required, and that the chiefs of mission in charge of each embassy or consulate can decide whether to fly the Pride flag or display other symbols of support for LGBTQ rights based on what is “appropriate in light of local conditions.”
During Trump’s presidency, the State Department refused to allow embassies to fly their flag on the same flagpole as the US flag. Diplomats were told that Pride symbols could be displayed in other areas of embassies.
In an interview with NBC News in 2019, Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s decision, saying, “When it comes to the American flagpole and American embassies and capitals around the world, one American flag flies.”
With the exception of a foreign service flag or a prisoner of war/missing in action flag, all US diplomatic missions require prior written approval from senior State Department leadership in Washington to fly any flag from the same halyard as the US flag. Such flags must be flown under the American flag, according to US law.
Blinken promised to fight for LGBTQ rights during his Senate confirmation hearing in January, including allowing embassies to fly the Pride flag and quickly naming a special envoy once confirmed as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state.