US diplomats work around White House gay pride flag ban

US diplomats work around White House gay pride flag ban

US Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv Image copyright US Embassy Jerusalem
Image caption The US Embassy in Jerusalem tweeted this photo of its Branch Office in Tel Aviv on Thursday

US diplomats have been finding creative ways to show support for LGBTQ+ Pride month after the White House banned them from flying the rainbow flag.

Before this year embassies had routinely hoisted the flag – but this year they were required to seek approval from the state department, which reportedly refused all requests.

On Tuesday Vice-President Mike Pence said the ban was the "right decision".

He said there were no restrictions on pride flags elsewhere on the buildings.

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The Trump administration has appointed several gay ambassadors and Mr Trump has made a statement celebrating Pride month.

What's behind the White House stance?

"We're proud to be able to serve every American," Mr Pence told NBC, but "when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies."

Mr Pence, an evangelical Christian, opposes gay marriage and has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The large pride flag on the US embassy in Seoul was taken down on Sunday

The ban has been backed by prominent evangelical Trump supporter Franklin Graham, who on Sunday tweeted that the gay pride flag was "offensive to Christians and millions of people of other faiths".

Earlier this month an unnamed diplomat told the Washington Post there was a "category one insurrection" against the rainbow flag ban.

How have US missions shown support for Pride?

On Thursday the US Embassy in Jerusalem tweeted a photo of its branch office in Tel Aviv – formerly the embassy before President Trump moved it to Jerusalem – decked out in rainbow colours.

It said this was in preparation for Friday's Tel Aviv pride parade.

It was among at least four embassies – the others were Germany, Brazil and Latvia – which were denied permission to fly the rainbow flag, the Guardian reported.

Despite that, the US missions in the South Korean capital Seoul and the Indian city of Chennai hung large rainbow flags on their facades.

Image copyright US Consulate Chennai
Image caption US Consul General in Chennai Robert Burgess in front of his mission's pride flag

The flag in Seoul was taken down on Sunday, local media reported. An embassy spokesperson told Yonhap that the flag had been taken down at the conclusion of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival.

However the various efforts made by US missions to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ people has not pleased everyone.

Norwegian Christian pastor Jan-Aage Torp tweeted a picture of the US embassy in Oslo, saying that the rainbow flag dwarfed the Stars and Stripes.

"Is this ok?" he asked.

Skip Twitter post by @JanAageTorp1

Attn: @realDonaldTrump @seanhannity As Chairman of Norway’s Christian Coalition, I am concerned that US Embassy in Oslo seems to violate @SecPompeo’s ban of rainbow flag at embassies. I took this photo now. Is this ok, @POTUS? Huge gay flag. Tiny US flag…. pic.twitter.com/nyU4cH20oN

— Jan-Aage Torp (@JanAageTorp1) June 14, 2019

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End of Twitter post by @JanAageTorp1

Some other embassies and ambassadors have also expressed support for LGBTQ+ Pride.

The US embassy in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar tweeted a picture of a Pride flag on its railings with the Stars and Stripes flying in the background.

Image copyright US Embassy Mongolia
Image caption The US embassy in Mongolia attached a small pride flag to its railings

Randy Berry, the US ambassador to Nepal, tweeted that he was celebrating Pride month and reaffirmed "the US commitment to defending human rights for all".

Skip Twitter post by @USAmbNepal

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

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End of Twitter post by @USAmbNepal

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