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U.S. and British embassies in the UAE face strong opposition for hoisting the gay pride flag

U.S. and British embassies in the UAE face strong opposition for hoisting the gay pride flag

Mark Bruxelle/EyeEm/Getty

Dubai, United Arab Emirates-The British and American embassies in the United Arab Emirates have faced strong opposition online and among locals for raising the rainbow pride flag in tribute to the LGBTQ community and the flag celebrating Pride Month.

This is the first time that any diplomatic mission has hoisted the gay pride flag in the religiously conservative Arabian Gulf, which has caused controversy in a country where same-sex relations are illegal.

“June is # Pride month Around the world, we celebrate equality and visibility #LGBT+ People,” the British delegation to the UAE posted on Twitter on Monday. “Today, we hold high the rainbow flag to affirm our pride in Britain’s diversity and our values ​​of equality, tolerance and freedom,” the post added, along with tags “#Pride2021.”

The U.S. Embassy posted a photo of its own flagpole flying the American flag and pride flag, and its Twitter account @USAinUAE posted a tweet saying: “On the anniversary of the Stonewall, this is a milestone in the American civil rights movement. The representative of the United States The regiment shows that it supports the dignity and equality of all people.” The Stonewall riots in 1969 are considered the birth of the gay rights movement.

The negative reaction to these posts was quick.

“The British Embassy is very disrespectful to the UAE and its people. It seems that someone there is still living the long-dead British Empire era,” Nasser Al-Shaikh, the former head of Dubai’s finance department, tweeted Wrote on it.

The British Embassy did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“This is unacceptable. We think it is an insult and disrespect,” another user posted, whose profile stated that he was in Dubai.

A user replied to this tweet, retorting “Do you think…not us.”

“You are free to support any cause or values ​​in your country. We ask you to respect our beliefs, values, customs and traditions,” another user said in response to a post from the US Embassy.

Many people commented on the embassy’s pride flag post in their tweets, tagged as UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs @MoFAICUAE.

A taboo topic

An initiative of the Biden administration

The flying flag is a hallmark of Joe Biden’s presidency, and he pledged to make human rights a priority for his government. U.S. diplomats in current and former missions in several different countries told CNBC that the move of the national flag marked a major reversal of the Donald Trump administration over the years.

Secretary of State Anthony Brinken announced earlier this year that during Pride Month in June, the U.S. consulate and embassy will be allowed to fly the rainbow flag on the same flagpole as the U.S. flag. The right to choose is left to individual delegations, some of which chose not to fly out of concerns about local reactions.

The Washington State Department hoisted the pride flag for the first time this year. Blincoln said in a June 1 statement: “As we celebrate Pride Month in June this year, let us not only observe that we are advocating for the human rights of LGBTQI+ people, but also acknowledge that we still There are challenges.”

Although during the tenure of former President Barack Obama, many U.S. embassies hung proud flags, under Trump’s leadership, these flags were not allowed to fly from the flagpoles of the missions. The government only allows the flying of the American flag At least from 2019. The government still allows pride flags to be hung on buildings or projected onto walls.

The U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai-a major event postponed to fall 2021 due to the coronavirus-also posted an Instagram post in June to commemorate Stonewall and stated that “it’s great for everyone The support of dignity and equality”.

“This is US policy, no matter who opposes it,” a former US embassy official said, speaking anonymously due to the sensitivity of the topic.

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