US embassies to be banned from flying Pride flags

A US government funding package includes a provision that bans the country’s embassies from flying Pride flags on their buildings.

Signed into law by president Joe Biden in the early hours of Saturday morning (23 March) to avert a government shutdown, the $1.2 trillion (£949 billion) package, which will fund the government until September, included a number of Republican-backed provisions.

The Biden administration has already said it will work to repeal the ban.

Republican House speaker Mike Johnson, a conservative Christian whose anti-LGBTQ+ views are well documented, touted the policy as a Republican win in a bid to encourage his colleagues to vote for the package. 

The law states funding cannot be used to “fly or display a flag over a facility of the United States Department of State” other than the American flag or other government-related flags. Those which support prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action, hostages and wrongfully imprisoned US citizens are exempt from the ban.

A Pride flag stylised like the US flag being waved at a Pride parade (Canva)
A Pride flag stylised like the the Stars and Stripes is waved at an LGBTQ+ event. (Canva)

In a statement released following Biden’s signing of the package, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president believes it was “inappropriate to abuse the process that was essential to keep the government open by including this policy targeting LGBTQI+ Americans [and he] is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ equality at home and abroad”. 

While the president had been unsuccessful in blocking the flag provision, the administration had been “successful in defeating [more than] 50 other policy riders attacking the LGBTQI+ community that congressional Republicans attempted to insert into the legislation”. 

The law does not cover the inside of buildings or elsewhere on embassy grounds and the ban “will have no impact on the ability of members of the LGBTQI+ community to serve openly in our embassies or to celebrate Pride”, the White House insisted.

The move comes a few weeks after voters in Huntington Beach, California, approved a ballot measure that bans non-governmental flags being flown from government buildings

NBC Los Angeles quoted mayor Gracey van der Mark saying: “We want to remove all special interests and just focus on flags that represent all of us, regardless of our race, gender [or] sexual orientation.”

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