Pence calls Trump's ban on pride flags at US embassies 'the right decision'

Oliver Milman in New York
Photograph: Reuters

Vice-President Mike Pence has defended the Trump administration’s decision to prohibit US embassies from flying the rainbow pride flag on their flagpoles during LBGTQ pride month.

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Pence said the ban on flying the flag was “the right decision”. In an interview with NBC, the vice-president said “we’re proud to be able to serve every American”, but that “when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies”.

Pence, who has previously been criticized for warning there would be “societal collapse” if gay people were allowed to marry, said the Trump administration had placed no restrictions on US embassies placing pride flags or other flags elsewhere on their properties.

At least four US embassies – in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia – were denied permission to fly the pride flag. Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, is spearheading an American campaign to decriminalize homosexuality around the world and said he would be “proud” to fly the rainbow flag.

But Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, believes that embassy flagpoles should be reserved for the American flag only, according to a spokeswoman.

“Pride Month, that we’re in right now, is celebrated around the world by many state department employees, by many embassies,” Morgan Ortagus, the state department spokeswoman, said on Monday. “The secretary has the position that, as it relates to the flagpole, that only the American flag should be flown there.”

Despite the ban, some embassies and consulates have managed a workaround, with the US missions in Seoul, South Korea and Chennai in India placing large pride flags on their facades. The embassy in Delhi has been covered in rainbow-coloured lights.

Donald Trump tweeted his support for pride month on 31 May, praising the “outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation”.