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Jun 26, 2019

No “Rainbow Flag” this Year Doesn’t Mean No Support for L.G.B.T.I. Community

In our past coverage of the L.G.B.T.I. event at the U.S. Embassy, you may have seen the symbolic raising of the rainbow flag; but that didn’t happen this year. Visiting Deputy Director of Central American Affairs, Thomas Lersten, delivered the remarks at today’s event in the absence of Charge d’ Affaires Keith Gilges. Lersten said that while Belize has made some strides for equality, a lot more needs to be done for the L.G.B.T.I. community’s human rights to be recognized. Lersten also explains why the rainbow flag is not flying high anymore at the U.S. Embassy:


Thomas Lersten

Thomas Lersten, Deputy Director, Central American Affairs, U.S. Department of State

“Human rights are vitally important to the United States and it is very important that we celebrate our diversity and it is also very important that we recognize the basic respect and dignity that every human being deserves. We think in the United States that that is not just the US value but that is a universal value and that includes countries such as Belize. Some of the stories that we have heard this afternoon related to discrimination against the LGBTI community here in Belize and that is a concern to us in the United States. Our belief is that everybody again is deserving of respect and dignity. We not only think that this is a governmental obligation but also a personal obligation of every citizen; every citizen must respect the rights and dignity of others and respect the diversity among us and promote tolerance. So, it is not only a governmental responsibility but it is also a personal responsibility.”


Andre Polanco

“What can you share with us about the flag – is that a decision that the US Government has taken to stop the raising of the flag at the US embassies and consulates around the world?”


Thomas Lersten

“Well, basically the policy is that on the US flag pole itself the United States flag should be the only flag that is flying. But that in no way hinders or prohibits embassies from taking a pride flag and, for example, draping it over the façade of an embassy or raising it on another flag pole. So, that is not specific to a prohibition of a pride flag on a flag pole but also other flags. So, there are other ways that our embassies can recognize Pride Day with the flag.”


Andrea Polanco

“And this doesn’t indicate any lack of support for the LGBT Community moving forward?”


Thomas Lersten

“It certainly does not. No. No. In no way shape or form, no.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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