US embassies denied permission to fly rainbow pride flags

Berlin embassy says request had been 'routine'

By Michelle Kosinski, CNN
iStock/Rikke68

Multiple US embassies were denied permission by the Trump administration to fly the rainbow pride flag from their flagpoles to commemorate LBGTQ Pride Month, two senior State Department officials told CNN Friday.

Embassies are required to get permission from the State Department when flying anything besides the American flag on their main flagpoles.

At the US Embassy in Berlin, which was one of the locations denied permission this year, flying the rainbow flag in the month of June had previously been simply "a routine thing that happens every year," one source said.

"It's always accepted," the source said, adding that the embassy had asked to fly the flag just during the city's Pride Week, at the end of June.

But this year, "an email was sent back from State's Management office, saying no. Denied," the source told CNN.

The ambassador at that embassy, Richard Grenell, is gay and an advocate for LBGTQ rights around world. He said they will "hang a huge banner on the side of the Embassy" and host multiple events during Pride Month.

NBC News was first to report the story.

In a statement that reads like a most diplomatic rebuke of what seems to be a new policy, Grenell said, "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."

When asked if Grenell was annoyed that they had been denied permission to fly the flag from the flagpole, the State Department source replied with an emphatic "yes."

"His take now is basically, OK, then we'll fly it inside the embassy, we'll fly it from the window, we'll fly it from the balcony, and everywhere else," the person said.

The State Department has not responded to a request for comment.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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