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U.S. Embassies Can Fly LGBTQ+ Pride Flags Again Under Biden

Feb 04, 2021

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US national flag and LGBT pride flag made by Johnin


It’s a new day for equality as Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken confirmed that the Biden administration will recommit to LGBTQ+ rights.

In a Tuesday confirmation hearing, Blinken unveiled a shortlist of proposals the incoming administration will enact to promote queer and transgender rights in the United States and abroad. Among those pledges, he claimed that Biden’s State Department will reverse Trump-era bans on U.S. embassies flying rainbow flags in honor of Pride month. A July 2020 memo from former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper regarding pro-LGBTQ+ displays at military bases likened them to Confederate flags, notorious symbols of white supremacy.

According to CNN, Blinken also said the Biden White House will appoint a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons. The position was created by Barack Obama in 2015, but after inaugural appointee Randy Berry vacated the post in the early days of Trump’s presidency, it was not refilled.

Blinken claimed that appointing a new envoy is “a matter, I think, of some real urgency” following a surge in violence against LGBTQ+ people around the world during Trump’s four years in office. According to a recent report from the advocacy group Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT), 350 transgender people were murdered globally between October 2019 and September 2020, marking a 6% increase from the previous year. 44 trans people were killed in the U.S. alone in 2020, a record number.

“We've seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase,” Blinken said. “We've seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we've seen ever. 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.”


These pledges would mark a dramatic about-face from the previous administration. In addition to restricting embassies in Brazil, Germany, Israel, and Latvia from showing support for the LGBTQ+ community, Trump only recognized Pride month once during his presidency. After issuing a lone Pride month tweet in 2019, he went back to his annual tradition of ignoring the observance in 2020.

The Trump administration’s departure also marks the end of Mike Pompeo’s dismal tenure as Secretary of State, in which he persistently worked to erase LGBTQ+ people from global human rights efforts. The Commission on Unalienable Rights, a controversial initiative spearheaded by Pompeo, claimed that queer and trans equality was an issue invented by “politicians and bureaucrats” and referred to marriage equality and reproductive rights as “divisive social and political controversies.”

Pompeo, who once referred to homosexuality as “perversion” before joining the State Department, also gave a speech to a pro-conversion therapy group last year. And before he was tapped to the Cabinet position in 2018, he reportedly blocked Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, from giving a speech to the CIA on diversity while serving as the agency’s director.

Blinken has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, but the Washington Post believes his approval is likely, with Republicans like Lindsey Graham signaling their support of his candidacy. Before being nominated to the State Department by Biden, he previously served as Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Secretary of State under Obama.