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No, United Nations not united on gay rights – didn’t replace member country flags with pride flag

IN SHORT: The United Nations is yet to be unanimous on gay rights. So why would it replace all of its 193 member states’ flags with the rainbow pride flag? The short answer is it didn’t.

In June 2023 a claim went viral on social media that to mark Pride Month, the United Nations had swapped out its members’ country flags with the rainbow pride flag.

“The United Nations replaces all 193 country flags with LGBT flags,” it reads, mostly in a graphic showing pride flags in front of high-rise buildings. The claim can also be seen here, here, here, here, here and here.

Pride Month, celebrated in June each year, affirms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other people in the LGBTQ+ community.

The celebration’s origins are in the USA. It marks the June 1969 Stonewall uprising against police harassment of gay people in New York City.

The United Nations or UN is a global organisation of governments from 193 states. Fifty-four are African countries.

The UN’s headquarters are in New York City, where member states’ flags fly in front of the famous secretariat skyscraper. The UN also has offices in Geneva in Switzerland, Nairobi in Kenya and Vienna in Austria.

The UN has passed many resolutions upholding the rights of LGBTQ+ people and condemning violence against the community. Several African countries opposed or abstained from the resolutions

As this Africa Check factsheet shows, 31 of the UN’s African member countries criminalised same-sex relationships as of 2020.

Despite this, did the UN really replace its 193 member states’ flags with the gay pride flag in June 2023?


Pride flags around Rockefeller Center don’t represent UN nations

The graphic includes a watermark for the website Voz Media. The site posted the claim on Facebook on 7 June, with a link to an article.

But the article’s headline and its Facebook preview are different.

“The United Nations replaces the 193 flags of its countries with the LGBT,” the Facebook preview reads. But the article’s headline is “Rockefeller Center replaces all 193 country flags with LGBT flags”.

It’s likely the headline was changed after the article was posted on Facebook.

The Rockefeller Center is just a 20-minute walk from the UN headquarters. But it has no connection to the United Nations.

In June 2023 the centre did put up pride flags outside its building. 

A blog on its site, dated 7 June, reads: “Along with Pride art installations across campus, Rockefeller Center is decorated in technicolor with rainbow pathways on Center Plaza and Pride flags around The Rink and the Weather Room at Top of The Rock.”

There’s no evidence the flags represent UN members. And the flags weren’t raised by the United Nations.

The claim is false.

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