June 11 (UPI) — The U.S. embassy in Seoul has taken down a gay pride banner from the front of its building, following reports the U.S. State Department has changed its policy regarding displays of the rainbow flag of gay pride at overseas missions.
The U.S. embassy in South Korea unfurled the flag on May 18 in commemoration of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and ahead of LGBT Pride Month in June.
The flag at the U.S. embassy compound in Seoul measured 8 by 4 meters and was visible from central Seoul. By Monday the flag was no longer on display across the front of the building, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
It is unclear whether the embassy took down the banner in response to changes in policy.
Policy changed in 2018 under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, and the State Department began to require pride flags at embassies receive official approval, according to The Washington Post.
The State Department has been denying requests from embassies to fly rainbow flags, but some diplomats are defying the ban and placing the banners on display, including in New Delhi, India, and Seoul, NBC News reported.
The U.S. embassy in Seoul confirmed they took down the flag over the weekend, according to Yonhap. They did not confirm whether the decision was due to orders from the State Department.
The embassy began to display the banner in 2017 in a show of support for an annual Queer Culture Festival in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
In 2017, the embassy said the State Department protects the fundamental freedoms of sexual minorities and will show solidarity for human rights activists and civic groups who ensure those freedoms.
Former Ambassador Mark Lippert, appointed during the Obama administration, once attended the festival with more than a dozen other ambassadors in South Korea.