The Trump administration has ordered the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, to remove a rainbow flag hung in support of LGBTQ Pride Month.
The instructions to remove the Pride Flag reportedly came from the offices of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has a long history of anti-LGBTQ positions. The South Korea embassy was also ordered to take down a banner in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
CNN reports the two banners hung from the embassy building’s facade were originally placed there thanks to Ambassador Harry Harris.
The Twitter account for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul proudly shared photos of the Pride flag and Black Lives Matter banner prior to their removal.
— U.S. Embassy Seoul (@USEmbassySeoul) May 31, 2020
The U.S. Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change. Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive & just society. pic.twitter.com/Y4Thr2MRdw
— U.S. Embassy Seoul (@USEmbassySeoul) June 13, 2020
The State Department cited the Black Lives Matter movement’s status as a non-profit organization as the reason for removing the BLM banner because “the US government does not encourage contributions to the group or promote any specific organization.”
But no reason was given for removing the Pride flag.
According to CNN, the Pride flag was removed on Monday just hours before the landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court which affirmed federal protections for LGBTQ Americans in the workplace.
You may recall the Trump administration rejected requests from U.S. embassies to fly Pride flags from embassy flag poles last year.
At the time, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo had no issue with rainbow flags being flown as long as it wasn’t from the embassy flagpoles.
“Secretary has the position that, as it relates to the flagpole, that only the American flag should be flown there,” said Ortagus.
The embassy in Seoul worked around the denial in 2019 by hanging the flag on the outside of the building, but clearly, that approach didn’t fly this year.
Contrast all this with the Obama years when the government granted blanket permission to fly rainbow flags during June in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month. Additionally, President Obama issued presidential proclamations recognizing June as Pride Month all eight years of his administration.