The law on flag burning

| 20/12/2016

Is it legal to burn the Cayman Islands flag as a form of protest?

Auntie’s answer: This is an interesting question and one that has been in the news recently as part of all the insanity of the US presidential election. Up there, the right to burn the flag has been upheld as protected under the US Constitution, covered by the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, which includes freedom of speech and religion.

Despite that constitutional protection, the  US president-elect recently suggested a loss of citizenship or a year in jail as punishment for burning that country’s flag.

In Cayman, Section 77 (“Vandalising the flag of the Islands”) of the Penal Code (2013 Revision) says, “A person who unlawfully damages or destroys the flag of the Islands commits an offence.”

There does not seem to be any room in the law for damaging the flag as a means of expression or protest.

A quick look at other countries provides a mixed bag. Burning the flag is not a criminal act in Canada; it is also a protected form of expression. Nations where it is illegal include China, Austria, Argentina and Croatia. Others, like Denmark and Japan, allow their flags to be burned but not those of other countries. New Zealand prohibits “dishonouring” the flag but what that means is open to interpretation.

We don’t seem to have that freedom of interpretation in Cayman, which I am sure is just fine for some and not so much for others.


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It would be better to burn the problem rather than the flag. Unfortunately, burning politicians can get you locked up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you want to burn the flag first wrap yourself in it.

  3. East End Resident says:

    I honestly think, that as crimes go, the Cayman Islands has more pressing things to worry about than protesters.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Flag burning is a powerful means of free expression because people do not like it. There is no need to protect free speech that no-one minds people express it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Burning the flag? GTFOH

    • Anonymous says:

      And this sort of view is why flag burning is so effect a means of free speech.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I would hardly call that a freedom of expression. I’m sure there are other ways to express freedom of expression without destroying things.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, lets limit free speech to forms approved by the morally outraged majority. That would not restrict the right at all, no way.