Foreign Office flagging to hold up their end of the argument

Rainbow_flagIt seems slightly bizarre that in 2017 the Government should still be getting itself in a tizzy over LGBT issues – but it seems they can’t help themselves.

In 2015 our then Foreign Secretary was reported as having written to embassies around the globe that our gin-swilling ambassadors were to be forbidden to fly the rainbow flag in association with gay pride day.

This was seen as a U-turn by the Government which the previous year was said to have encouraged the flag to be flown from its buildings including its embassies in Paris and Oslo – presumably considered outposts of progressive, liberal values.

The decision to stop the rainbow flag being run up the Government flagpoles was supposedly taken by the then Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, who is now tucked away in No.11 Downing Street.

Mr Hammond and a coloured flag

Mr Hammond and a multi-coloured flag.

So when I asked to see ministerial correspondence between embassies and the Foreign Office I thought there might be something interesting to see.

To cut down on the scope of the request I selected Uganda and Russia as being at one end of the tolerance scale and the Netherlands at the other.

Surprise, surprise the Government refused to let me have the information saying it fell under S.35 (formulation and development of government policy).

I appealed and much to my surprise the Information Commissioner has sided with me saying the public interest is in releasing the documents.

I now fully expect the Foreign Office to appeal – so maybe Boris and I can go head to head at a tribunal.

Here is the decision notice from the ICO.

Signed decision notice FS50646723

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