THE Union Flag, or Union Jack, is a proud symbol of Britain held up and worn by those representing our country in everything from sporting events to war.
However during protests across the world there are often attempts to destroy the British flag. But is it illegal here in the UK?
Is it illegal to burn the Union flag in the UK?
No. It is not illegal to burn the flag, so long as it's yours.
Otherwise it's technically an act of vandalism because you're destroying someone else's property.
Chief Vexillologist (flag expert) of the Flag Institute, Graham Bartram, told The Sun: "In Britain we don’t have any laws against burning the national flag.
"If you buy a union flag and burn it then legally speaking the main issue is more with health and safety.
"It’s like burning a towel and waving it around your head – you could hurt someone.
"I’d rather someone burned our flag than that they hurt someone or beat someone up.
"We should value people more than the cloth because it represents the people.
"If those people represented by it want to destroy it then that’s part of the point of its existence as a symbol.
"The object is replaceable, but people aren’t."
What laws apply to the flag?
Legally speaking, the Union Flag/Jack is not the flag of Great Britain, but has become a symbol by assumption.
It has never been defined by an act of parliament, but it's been used by Brits so much over the course of history that it's become an internationally recognised symbol of Great Britain.
The UK enshrines the right to deface the flag under Freedom of Speech laws, though there have been multiple attempts to make it illegal over the years.
According to the Flag Institute, on July 14, 1908, a statement was made in the House of Lords by the Earl of Crewe (on behalf of the Government) in reply to a question asking whether the full Union Jack might be flown on land by every citizen in the Empire.
His answer was that the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag, and it undoubtedly might be flown on land by all of His Majesty’s subjects.
Home Secretary, Sir John Gilmour, backed this in June 1933 by saying that the Union Jack was the national flag and might be flown by any British subject on land, during a House of Commons speech.
Other than that the only official Government document around the creation of the flag is its specifications that were outlined in the BR20: Flags of All Nations reference book, written by the Admiralty during the Golden Age of Sail.
What happened to the Cenotaph flag during BLM protests?
A Black Lives Matter protester tried to burn a Union Flag at the Cenotaph as peaceful demonstrations in London turned ugly on Monday, June 8.
The yob was filmed using a lighter to set the flag alight as it draped off the iconic memorial to Britain’s war dead in Westminster.
During the short clip of the outrageous attempt, others can be heard yelling at her to “get down” as she stands on the memorial’s plinth.
She was unsuccessful, as was another protester who was filmed trying to tear it down.
It is not clear if she was arrested for the attempt, but the video shows a bit of a scuffle with some riot officers toward the end as they were pushed away.
What is the law around burning flags in other countries?
Laws around burning national flags vary around the world.
In most other countries the practice is illegal to varying extents. In China you can be jailed for it for up to 3 years.
In the US the act is protected by the first amendment in the Constitution. Australia, Belgium and Canada also allow it.
In Denmark the only flag that isn't protected is the Danish one itself, because they don't want to offend other nations.
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