|Members of Christian groups protest against the U.S. Embassy's practice of flying the rainbow flag. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
By Jung Min-ho
|U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris|
The move comes amid media reports that the U.S. State Department disapproved all embassy requests to fly the popular symbol of gay rights outside their buildings this year ― a revelation suggests that displaying the flag was U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris' own decision.
"This is a category one insurrection," the Washington Post quoted a U.S. diplomat as saying.
The practice by U.S. embassies, which started during the Barack Obama administration, now requires top-level approval from the State Department.
In 2011, the Obama administration directed government agencies overseas to promote LGBT rights.
But after Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, became secretary of state, things started to change: diplomats were required to obtain permission from the State Department's Office of Management to fly a rainbow flag.
In fact, the practice has caused controversy among members of the Republican Party, which has long opposed LGBT rights, as well as protests in other countries, including Korea.
Franklin Graham, a pastor and prominent Trump supporter, said the rainbow flag could be offensive to many people.
"The only flag that should fly over our embassies is the flag of the USA," he wrote on Twitter. "The gay pride flag is offensive to Christians and millions of people of other faiths, not only in this country but around the world."