The ban, which was reported by NBC News Saturday, came after a new policy announced last year said diplomatic missions wishing to to fly a rainbow flag were required to obtain top-level approval from the State Department’s Office of Management, headed by Pompeo associate Brian Bulatao.
However, in what could be seen as an act of defiance, some of the American diplomats serving in Israel joined 10,000 participants in the March for Pride and Tolerance held in Jerusalem last Thursday.
Other diplomats in U.S. embassies around the world have also been finding ways to defy, or at least get around, the new policy by tweeting photos of themselves at local Pride parades.
NBC quoted three unnamed diplomats as saying that U.S. embassies in Germany, Israel, Brazil and Latvia requested permission from the State Department to fly the rainbow flag on their flagpoles. All the requests were denied, but were told flags could be flown elsewhere on embassy grounds.
The decision stands in contrast to the administration's announced campaign to decriminalize homosexuality overseas as well as a tweet by President Donald Trump calling for a celebration of LGBT Pride Month, which began last week.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2019
The Washington Post on Saturday quoted gay employees of the State Department a saying that Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, has not attended the State Department’s annual Pride Day event for two years running as his predecessors usually did, although he was traveling in Europe this year.
The employees told the Post that the ban on flying the rainbow flag was just the tip of an iceberg of slights.
“Day by day, a death by a thousand cuts, our rights as LGBTQ Americans are being eroded with the removal of a guidance here, the rewriting of a policy there," the employees said.
According to the report, the State Department declined to answer questions about the Pride Month advisory and rainbow flag ban.
The Trump administration has been accused of having a regressive approach towards LGBTQ rights. This year, a ban on transgender troops serving in the military came into effect, while all mention of gay rights have been removed from the White House website.
Last week, the adminstration lifted protections for transgender people receiving medical treatment and is preparing legislation allowing homeless shelters to turn away trans people.
During the tenure of Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, however, the White House was lit up with rainbow colors to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S.