The Trump administration would like observers to think that they’re laudable supporters of LGBTQ rights in the United States and around the globe, but the reality of the situation tells a different story. They seem to be hesitating to actually tout that supposed support around the globe, denying what are now multiple requests from U.S. embassies in foreign countries to fly the rainbow flag customarily used to symbolize LGBTQ pride that’s especially prevalent during June, which is recognized as Pride Month.
The denials, shared with NBC News by three American diplomats, have so far covered embassies in Israel, Brazil, Latvia, and Germany, where ironically the most senior gay official in the Trump administration serves. That official — U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell — is helping lead a recently announced push from the Trump administration to globally decriminalize homosexuality, which remains a harshly punishable offense in many countries.
Grenell seemed to find no issue with the Trump administration’s treatment of the pride flag, telling NBC News in a Friday statement:
‘The President’s recognition of Pride Month and his tweet encouraging our decriminalization campaign gives me even more pride to once again march in the Berlin Pride parade, hang a huge banner on the side of the Embassy recognizing our pride, host multiple events at the Embassy and the residence, and fly the gay pride flag.’
Under the Obama administration, U.S. embassies around the world were granted blanket permission to fly the pride flag. The Trump administration’s so far blanket denials of that permission cover the official flagpoles on the embassy grounds, which they issued preemptive guidance would have to be approved to host pride flags. At some embassies around the world, U.S. officials are still displaying LGBTQ pride imagery, just in other contexts, like a large rainbow banner on the side of the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.
Despite the optimism about the situation shared by figures like Grenell, the policy that the Trump administration has been promoting stands staunchly against LGBTQ rights. They have enacted a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, with Trump claiming just recently that transgender people “take massive amounts of drugs.” Although some do take hormones, it’s a gross disparagement at best for the president to say this about them. As has been previously noted, the U.S. military spends more on Viagra than they’re projected to on transgender people’s medical care. So in other words, random dudes “take massive amounts of drugs” too.
There are other deeply unsettling policy issues depicting the Trump administration as unwilling to go beyond posting a tweet Grenell was so excited about. For instance, they have unveiled a policy allowing for health providers to refuse to provide treatment that conflicts with their religious beliefs, which could open the door to them ignoring transgender people, women’s health issues, and more.
The Trump administration has often and repeatedly embraced religiosity above widespread elevation of human rights. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself has previously characterized politics as a “never-ending struggle… until the Rapture,” among other unsettling at best statements.
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