The Biden administration has reversed a Trump-era ban on U.S. embassies flying LGBTQ Pride flags.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has instructed diplomatic outposts that they are free to fly rainbow flags from their flagpoles once more, after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo banned the practice.
The Trump administration’s move — which required flags to be flown or hung elsewhere on embassy or consulate grounds — was heavily criticized, given it came during LGBTQ Pride Month.
In reversing that decision, Blinken told the chiefs of mission who run U.S. embassies and consulates that they are free to choose whether or not to fly Pride flags, based on what they deem “appropriate in light of local conditions,” according to a cable from Blinken obtained by Foreign Policy.
“Posts should support efforts to repeal [criminalization] legislation, while ensuring that ‘do no harm’ remains our overarching principle so U.S. efforts do not inadvertently result in backlash or further marginalization of the LGBTQI+ community,” Blinken’s cable said.
The new directive is a “blanket” authorization, allowing diplomatic outposts to fly the Pride flag on or before International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17.
In practice, it means outposts will not need to seek approval prior to flying the flag, as they would normally. (The Trump administration confirmed their stance on Pride flags by refusing requests from several embassies to fly them.)
The State Department spokesperson issued a statement to Insider confirming the change.
“President Biden believes that America’s strength is found in its diversity. America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive,” the spokesperson said.
“Recognizing that each country context is different, U.S. embassies and consulates develop individual plans to raise awareness of violence, human rights abuses, and discrimination targeting LGBTQI+ persons, including appropriate exterior displays.”
In reversing the flag ban, Blinken has followed through on a commitment he made during his confirmation hearing in January.
The longtime aide to President Joe Biden, who previously served as national security advisor during his time as vice president, told senators he would lift the ban on Pride flags at embassies.
He also committed to appointing a special envoy with expertise in dealing with human rights issues that directly impact the LGBTQ community, as well as raising that position to ambassadorial level.
In addition, Blinken said he would “repudiate” the findings of a report issued by the Trump administration’s Commission on Inalienable Human Rights.
Filled with anti-LGBTQ figures, the controversial State Department commission had branded LGBTQ equality a “divisive social and political controversy.”
A South Carolina man convicted 20 years ago under the state's now-invalid anti-sodomy law has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state's requirement that he register as a sex offender.
The man, known as "John Doe" in the lawsuit, was convicted in 2001 under South Carolina's "buggery" law for having consensual sex with another adult male. Doe claims his partner was also convicted of the offense.
Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which declared all existing state anti-sodomy statutes in the United States as unconstitutional, laws similar to South Carolina's "buggery" law were routinely used to punish and criminalize homosexuality by imposing jail sentences or other penalties on gay and bisexual men.
A Republican-backed bill in South Carolina that would allow doctors to refuse non-lifesaving medical care to LGBTQ people has stalled after they realized it would allow doctors to refuse to treat those unvaccinated against COVID-19.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Josh Kimbrell (R-Spartanburg), was purportedly introduced to protect doctors and other medical professionals from being fired, demoted, or sued if they refuse to provide non-emergency services or perform specific procedures to which they morally object, such as gender confirmation surgeries.
The bill also seeks to reverse an unrelated ordinance, approved last June in the city of Columbia, that prohibits the practice of subjecting minors to so-called "conversion therapy," reports the Columbia-based newspaper The State.
Almost 10 months after queer students and allies lit up Brigham Young University's iconic "Y" sign in rainbow colors to show support for LGBTQ equality, the anti-LGBTQ university has passed new rules to restrict student-led demonstrations and silence what it perceives as dissent against the central tenets of Mormonism.
The demonstration, which took place on the evening of March 4, coincided with Rainbow Day, an annual event organized by Color the Campus, a student-led organization for LGBTQ people and allies.
Each year, as part of Rainbow Day, students dress in rainbow colors and pass out rainbow-colored trinkets to show support for the LGBTQ community on campus. Organizers have repeatedly insisted that the event is not a protest, nor is it intended to be critical of BYU or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with which the school is affiliated. However, school administrators appear to view any sign of LGBTQ affirmation -- or even neutrality towards LGBTQ issues -- as an affront.
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