We all adhere to laws. They’re in place to keep society safe and to prevent anarchy from ensuing in the streets. For the most part, they make sense. Don’t steal stuff or you’ll be punished, for example. I don’t think anyone would argue with that (except thieves maybe).
From medieval laws that were never removed to inexplicably weird current rulings, here is a list of unusual laws and rules from around the world that you won’t believe actually exist.
25. Comic Books Depicting Crime Are Technically Illegal In Canada
A piece of legislation dating back to the late 1940’s states that it is illegal ‘to possess, print, publish, or sell a crime comic if you are possessing that comic for the purposes of sale. The law is outdated and no longer regulated seriously, but can you imagine getting two years imprisonment for flicking through an X-man comic?
24. Divorce Is Illegal In The Philippines
Rather unbelievably, the Philippines remains the only country in the world, bar the Vatican, that still outlaws divorce. They take ‘till death do us part’ very seriously apparently.
23. It’s Illegal To Put Chewing Gum Anywhere But in a Bin in Singapore
Chewing gum was actually banned completely in Singapore until the law was modified in 2004 to allow dental and nicotine gum. You can still face a hefty fine for spitting chewing gum onto the pavement or sticking it to anything that’s not the inside of a bin though.
22. You Can’t Lift Your Feet Off The Bike Pedals While Riding in Mexico
If you’re thinking of pulling off some cool bike tricks in Mexico, you’d better reconsider. For safety reasons it’s technically illegal to lift your feet from the pedals while riding. It actually makes sense. Kind of.
21. Clean Your Car Before Taking to the Roads in Russia
It sounds arbitrary, but it’s illegal to drive a dirty car in Russia. (My Saturn S Series would stand no chance). However, natives report that it’s usually only dirty licence plates that draw the attention of traffic police.
20. Stepping on Thai Money is a Big No-No
Intentionally stepping on Thai money is considered a huge disrespect to the monarchy, because it bears the King’s image, and can lead to considerable jail time. I don’t know about anybody else, but it’s almost a reflex action for me to lunge at a coin or note with my foot if I drop it.
19. You’d Better Not Forget to Visit Your Parents in China
I thought that the ‘Elderly Rights Law’ might be an archaic law that was never amended, but I was shocked to find that it is as recent as 2013! The law states that grown children are legally obliged to regularly visit their parents and take their spiritual needs into account. Cute, but weird.
18. No Durians Here Thanks
It might not be written into any national law, but the spiky durian fruit is banned from hotels and public transport in a range of countries across Southeast Asia. Why? Because it smells like rotten flesh. I can confirm the stench from personal experience.
17. It’s The Law For Japanese Citizens to Have Their Waistline Checked Annually
In a bid to control the rising cost of healthcare for weight-related issues, the government of Japan introduced the ‘metabo law.’ It states that companies and local governments must measure the waistline of 40-74 year-olds annually. Males must be under 33.5 inches while the target for women is 35.4 inches. Contrary to popular internet rumours, those that fall outside the thresholds receive dietary information and education rather than jail time.
16. It’s Illegal to Feed Pigeons in San Francisco
I don’t know of anyone who actually enjoys feeding pigeons, except for that weird lady in Home Alone 2. Regardless, anyone feeding them in San Francisco can expect a fine because ‘feeding pigeons harms our neighbourhoods and also harms the birds.
15. Why Did the Chicken Not Cross the Road?
I know that it sounds like the start of a joke, but in Quitman, Georgia, it’s illegal to allow chickens to cross an open road. It makes sense from a safety perspective, but what doesn’t make sense is why the law is so specific to chickens.
14. Camo is a No-Go in Barbados
As well as running the risk of having people say that they can’t see you (a truly classic Dad joke), it’s actually an offence to wear camouflage clothing in Barbados. The ruling even extends to children!
13. Canadian Radio Stations Are Required to Play Canadian Songs
Popular music radio stations in Canada are required to ensure that 35% of the music they play between 6am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, is Canadian content. So you’ve got the Biebs, Drake, Celine Dion and Nickle….
12. Don’t You Dare Get Ill
Residents of the medieval hillside town of Sellia, Italy are “forbidden to get ill within the municipality.” The legislation, Ordinanza 11, sounds ridiculous but was introduced to help deal with an ageing demographic. Those that refuse to comply to have their health checked regularly can face a €10 fine.
11. Don’t You Dare Get Ill Part 2
To take matters one step further than Sellia, the mayor of the village of Sarpourenx in France, outlawed residents from dying within the parish without first purchasing a plot in the cemetery. Surely offenders would be beyond caring about punishment at that point?
10. No ‘No Questions Asked’ Allowed
In Tasmania, it’s an offence to publicly advertise a reward for lost or stolen property and state that no questions will be asked upon its return.
9. It’s Illegal For Women to Drive in Saudi Arabia
It’s a little hard to believe that oppression like this still exists, but in the uber-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia, women are legally prevented from driving. There is good news, however, as new legislation has been passed that will reverse the ruling as of June 2018.
8. It’s Illegal to Unjustifiably Vex Someone in the Philippines
Neighbourly disputes, name calling or any other form of ‘unjust vexation’ can lead to prison time, or a fine of up to 200 pesos (about CAD $5) in the Philippines. With such a vague ruling, you’d better get along with the neighbours!
7. It’s Illegal to Handle a Salmon in Suspicious Circumstances in the U.K.
The Salmon Act 1986 is an act of parliament in the United Kingdom introduced to regulate salmon fishery. The act makes the list because of a quirky chapter that states handling a salmon in suspicious circumstances is illegal. It’s actually in reference to how the salmon was obtained, but still, the wording is hilarious.
6. You Can’t Wear a Suit of Armour in the House of Parliament in the U.K.
I can’t see this being much of an issue these days, but a law dating back to 1313 bans members of parliament from wearing armour. Oddly enough, the law is technically still in effect.
5. It’s Illegal to Sound a Car Horn in New York City
It’s hard to believe, but in the hustle and bustle of one of the noisiest cities in the world, sounding your car horn is illegal. The ruling states that ‘unnecessary’ use of a vehicles claxon in New York City can warrant a $350 fine, but it’s rarely enforced. Obviously.
4. You Can’t Clean Your Doormat After 8am in London
Section 60 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1854 makes it an offence to beat your carpet or rug in the street anywhere within the Metropolitan Police District. You can get away with beating your doormat, but you have to do it before 8am.
3. Driving While Blindfolded is Outlawed in Alabama
I don’t know why it was necessary to actually make this part of driving legislation. I can only imagine that someone, somewhere down the line, actually tried to do this.
2. You Can’t Relieve Yourself in the Sea in Portugal
Everyone does it. Right? If nature calls and you happen to be in the ocean/sea it’s just easy. But in Portugal, local laws prohibit urinating in the sea. How on earth they enforce it is beyond me though.
1. Russia Has a ‘Gay Propaganda’ law
The legislation bans any event or act that is seen to promote homosexuality to minors, and anyone seen to be breaching the rules can be punished with a hefty fine.