Recently appointed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has overturned a “ban” on flying the ‘LGBT pride’ flag from UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office buildings.
In one of Mr. Johnson’s first policy decisions he has overturned the ruling of his predecessor, Philip Hammond, meaning that the rainbow gay pride flag may soon be seen flying from Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) buildings, the Daily Mail reports.
Mr. Hammond had ruled that only the Union flag, the flags of the nations and overseas territories of the United Kingdom, and the EU flag could be flown from UK embassies and high commission office buildings. All other flags were excluded – including the gay pride flag.
As recently as last month the then Foreign Secretary rejected a call from the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to reverse the ruling.
In a report on the FCO’s human rights work, the Committee said Mr. Hammond’s decision to not fly the flag for Pride London, an annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) event, in 2015 “signalled an apparent change in FCO policy and sent a message that contradicts much of the actual work and objectives of the FCO”.
The report recommended that missions should fly the rainbow flag in countries where the staging of gay pride events is prohibited.
In an official response to the report on July 11, the Foreign Office said: “The FCO has a very clear policy on flag flying: it is to fly the Union flag at the FCO and all its embassies, high commissions and consulates at all times.
“The only other flags that are flown are of the constituent countries of the UK and the UK overseas territories on significant days for them, and the European Union flag in certain countries.
“These flags are always flown in addition to the Union flag and in a junior position. The UK is a member of, or supports, many organisations and associations, but does not fly any other flags.”
Following the overturning of this ruling by Mr. Johnson, a Foreign Office spokesman stated: “The Foreign Secretary has decided that the rainbow flag can be flown from Foreign and Commonwealth Office buildings in the UK and embassies and high commissions overseas.
“Whether it is flown is a matter for individual ambassadors and high commissioners, depending on local circumstances.”