Three U.S. diplomats sat that the Trump administration is rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow flag on flagpoles during June, LGBTQ Pride Month.
U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia are among those that have requested permission from the. U.S. State Department to fly the pride flag on their flagpoles and have been denied.
Although the pride flag can and is being flown elsewhere on embassy grounds, including inside embassies and on exterior walls, the decision not to allow it on the official flagpole stands in contrast to Trump‘s claim to be a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights overseas.
The current administration has announced a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality overseas and this month issued a tweet and formal statement to
“celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made.”
During the Obama administration, the government granted blanket permission to embassies overseas to fly the pride flag during June. This year, U.S. diplomats said, embassies were told they can display the pride flag in other places, including inside embassies, but that requests to fly it on the flagpole must be specifically approved. No approvals have been granted.
The denial to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin is particularly jarring because the ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is spearheading an administration push to end the criminalization of homosexuality in roughly 70 countries that still outlaw it, as NBC News first reported in February. Grenell, the most senior openly gay person in Trump’s administration, has secured support for that campaign from both Trump and VP Pence.
Grenell said Friday in a statement to NBC News,
“The President’s recognition of Pride Month and his tweet encouraging our decriminalization campaign gives me even more pride to once again march in the Berlin Pride parade, hang a huge banner on the side of the Embassy recognizing our pride, host multiple events at the Embassy and the residence, and fly the gay pride flag,”
Asked whether the embassy will fly the flag on its flagpole outside the building embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz said,
“The pride flag will be on as many places as it can at the Embassy.”
In Germany, pride celebrations continue into the month of July for a European LGBTQ event known as Christopher Street Day that occurs on different days in various parts of Europe.
The denials by Washington have alarmed U.S. diplomats serving around the world who are LGBTQ, with several raising the issue this week in a private group chat for members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.
After the publication of this story, the advocacy group GLAAD, tweeted,
“Remember last week when President Donald Trump was pretending to celebrate Pride Month?”
According to NBC News,
Earlier this month, a Trump administration rule took effect barring transgender people who have undergone a gender transition or been diagnosed with gender dysphoria from enlisting in the U.S. military. In the U.K. this week, Trump defended that policy by saying that transgender people “take massive amounts of drugs,” apparently referring to hormones.
His administration has also rolled back Obama administration rules designed to prevent health care discrimination against transgender people. And human rights groups have expressed concern that a new Commission on Unalienable Rights announced by the State Department this month to guide U.S. human rights policy, which emphasizes “our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” is designed to de-emphasize efforts to protect LGBTQ people and woman.
The news comes as pride celebrations are set to take place in Washington over the weekend, with WorldPride taking place in the U.S. for the first time this year, throughout June in New York.
UPDATE: Richard Grennell has left his position just four months after his appointment. Grenell took over the position in February 2020 after then-Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire allowed a subordinate to testify before the House of Representatives that Russia had tried to aid the Trump campaign in the 2020 election. Trump fired Maguire, replacing him with Grenell. Prior to his brief stint as Director of National Intelligence, Grenell served as US Ambassador to Germany.
(Photos, Wikimedia Commons; via NBC News)