Congress Bans LGBTQI+ Rainbow Pride Flags Flying Outside US Embassies


The Rainbow Pride Flag flying alongside the American flag over the US Consulate General in Johannesburg to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Biphobia in 2021 (Photo: US Embassy South Africa)

Republicans in the US Congress have pushed through a provision to bar US embassies from flying LGBTQI+ Rainbow Pride Flags outside the buildings.

The move was among more than 50 proposed anti-LGBTQI+ provisions attached to a $1.2 trillion funding package to keep the US government afloat.

Hardline Republican lawmakers hoped to force through these attacks on the LGBTQI+ community by refusing to otherwise vote for the funding bill, thereby threatening a government shutdown.

Ultimately, the vast majority of the anti-LGBTQI+ demands were removed from the final bill that was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on Saturday, which activists saw as a meaningful victory.

“MAGA members of Congress have repeatedly threatened to bog the appropriations process down with their anti-LGBTQ+ poison pills, putting the federal government on the brink of a shutdown in the process,” commented Human Rights Campaign Vice President of Government Affairs David Stacy.

“But, alongside pro-equality champions in the House and Senate, these dangerous riders that would have had devastating effects on LGBTQ+ people across the country have been rejected,” said Stacy.

Unfortunately, the ban on flying Rainbow Pride Flags at embassies and diplomatic missions in solidary with events like Pride and other LGBTQI+ days of significance remained in the bill. This development was touted as a triumph by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson. 

The Human Rights Campaign, however, said the provision, while “mean-spirited,” was limited in that it would only affect the flags being flown over the exterior of the building. It will not impact other displays of a Pride flag, hosting LGBTQI+ events or embassy employees’ ability to display Pride flags in their work spaces.

In a statement, the White House condemned “inappropriate” efforts “to abuse the process that was essential to keep the government open by including this policy targeting LGBTQI+ Americans.”

It noted that while 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 administration fought against the inclusion of this policy and we will continue to work with members of Congress to find an opportunity to repeal it.”

The Trump administration previously also enacted a ban on flying the Rainbow Pride Flag at US embassies.

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