The Rt Hon William Hague MP
Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
9th November 2011
You will be aware that a number of British Embassies have previously flown the Rainbow Flag to mark gay pride marches. These actions were welcomed as a show of support for the often persecuted LGBT communities in these countries. It gave out a clear message – Britain supported the human rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; not only at home, but across the world.
According to a recent article in the Independent on Sunday (23rd October, 2011), an instruction has been sent out from the Foreign Office to British Embassies which, in effect, bans the flying of the Rainbow Flag.
The Prime Minister has placed heavy emphasis on his support for LGBT rights. At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting he said that the Department for International Development would withhold general budget support from countries that do not recognise that LGBT people have human rights.
Does the Foreign Office not share the Prime Minister’s view? Do you agree with the departmental memo which states that the flying of the Rainbow Flag “opens up too many potentially difficult and divisive questions”? The Department for International Development appears to be prepared to penalise poor and hungry people in countries that fail to recognise LGBT human rights. Yet the Foreign Office is not prepared to raise a finger or a flag to show Britain’s support for those very same human rights. Is this not a rather contradictory position to be in?
As Foreign Secretary, you have the authority to initiate a review of the current flag guidelines. Doing so would send out a clear signal that the British Government really does support universal human rights. I hope you take the opportunity to do so.
Michael Cashman MEP