Adding RAINBOW FLAG to Unicode

dzo at dzo at
Wed Jul 1 08:50:17 CDT 2015

Whatever notation that might be added to whatever decision is ultimately made on this should probably mention historic use of the rainbow flag by the peace movement. See for example:

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Whistler <kenwhistler at>
Sender: "Unicode" <unicode-bounces at>Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2015 07:50:20 
To: Noah Slater<nslater at>
Cc: <unicode at>
Subject: Re: Adding RAINBOW FLAG to Unicode


Additional information you should have is that the UTC is about to
publish a new Public Review Issue on the topic of an extended mechanism
for the representation of more flag emoji with sequences of tag characters.
(Note: *not* representation as encoded single character symbols.)

That PRI, when it is available (should be quite soon -- early this week),
will be explicitly addressing concerns about state, regional, and
international flags. I don't think it will explicitly address "or 
but additional flag emoji that don't happen to be covered by the
regional and sub-regional tag mechanisms in the PRI would certainly
be in scope for discussion and feedback on the PRI.

Other short notes on comments in this long thread:

1. The claim that Twitter is including a RAINBOW FLAG would be taken
into consideration by the Emoji Subcommittee. Compatibility with
existing systems in wide use is a strong factor in favor of additions:

2. But on the other hand the offhand note: "When I mentioned my email to a
queer friend, they asked if I might propose other pride flags (*as there 
are many*)."
(emphasis added) illustrates the fundamental problem here. There is no
effective end to the "or otherwise" case for flags as symbols, and that
is why they are "generally not amenable to representation by encoded

Any simple image search for "pride flag" or "pride flag list" 
illustrates the
problem amply:

That is not the realm of *characters* -- it is the realm of graphic 
design of
flags, emblems, and frankly, at this point, heraldry. ;-)

So, to sum up, I suggest that this thread about the RAINBOW FLAG be
directed to the soon-to-be-posted Public Review Issue about extending
the generative mechanisms for representing emoji symbols for flags,
but that that feedback carefully consider how such an addition would
coexist with other mechanisms for extensions of flag representation
*and* how it could be reasonably limited to one instead of 28 (... or
500) more flags.


P.S. While I do think there might be a strong case made for the RAINBOW
FLAG to be added to the list of emoji flags representable by *some* kind
of extension mechanism in Unicode, there really, really is no end to
the "or otherwise" case. I happen to live in the city of Oakland, 
Try an image search on "Oakland flag". You start with a more-or-less
official City flag, which kind of fits in the city as sub-region of region
paradigm, and which can be spotted flying at the Oakland City Hall,
but this quickly tails off into a gazillion variants, and various
flags as sports memorabilia. I'm quite certain that an Oakland A's flag
emoji would be locally quite popular if it were available on people's
phones, for example.

On 6/28/2015 3:36 PM, Noah Slater wrote:
> I really wish they'd provided a justification for this statement! :) I 
> guess that this is the right list for a UTC officer to give some sort 
> of feedback.
> On Sun, 28 Jun 2015 at 21:23 Doug Ewell <doug at 
> <mailto:doug at>> wrote:
>     Additionally, the domain of flags is
>     generally not amenable to representation by encoded characters,
>     and the
>     UTC does not wish to entertain further proposals for encoding of
>     symbol
>     characters for flags, whether national, state, regional,
>     international,
>     or otherwise. References to UTC Minutes: [134-C2], January 28, 2013."
>     The last clause is the relevant one here: "whether national, state,
>     regional, international, or otherwise." The words "or otherwise" could
>     be interpreted as saying that no *specific* flag of any kind will be
>     encoded in the future as a single character, partly because the domain
>     of flags is so open-ended. That would include flags associated with or
>     representing specific groups of individuals or social causes.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Unicode mailing list