Wherever you live in this world, you’re guaranteed to find some inexplicably weird laws that you can’t imagine any police officer enforcing with a straight face. And I’m not just talking about France, where it’s illegal to fly UFOs—I’m talking about everywhere. In Chicago, for instance, it’s against the law to take a nap on a dance floor, give a dog whiskey, or eat in a building that’s on fire. And that’s just the beginning.
Herewith, we’ve assembled our favorite head-scratching laws that (really) exist throughout the world. So read on and know that, no matter where you are on this planet, you’re all but guaranteed to be a criminal doing just about anything. And if you’re ever arrested for something as pedestrian as speeding, know that you can get out of that one by reading up on the 10 Ways to Speed Without Getting a Ticket.
Public displays of affection in the United Arab Emirate
Yes, we’re talking about something as innocent as a kiss between consenting adults. Just recently, a couple were convicted to a month in prison for kissing in a gas station restroom. In 2013, a couple went to jail for a year after being spotted kissing on a beach at night, even though they claimed it was just “CPR.” If you’re not in the UAE and you’re feeling romantic, here are the 13 Sexiest Things You Can Ever Say to a Woman.
Failing to beat on drums in India to warn your fellow citizens about locusts
The East Punjab Agricultural Pets, Diseases and Noxious Weeds Act of 1949 requires anyone over 14 to sound the locust alarm with “a proclamation by beat of drum.” If you fail, you could end up with a steep fine or ten days in jail.
Flying a UFO over Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
If extraterrestrial visitors plan on visiting earth anytime soon, they might want to stay away from France. Well, specifically Châteauneuf-du-Pape in southeastern France. The anti-UFO legislation originated in 1954, after a local saw “deep sea divers” coming from a “cigar-shaped” space ship. The former mayor immediately made a decree: “Any aircraft, known as flying saucer or flying cigar, which should land on the territory of the community will be immediately held in custody.” And while we’re on the subject of France, here’s Why French Men Don’t Get Caught.
Holding a fish suspiciously in the U.K.
Thanks to the vague Salmon Act of 1986, you can’t just go around manhandling seafood while acting in a suspicious matter. Acting shifty with a shrimp cocktail is apparently still acceptable, since according to the fine print, the list of seafood includes “salmon, trout, eels, lampreys, smelt and freshwater fish.” This weird law just means that to enjoy your dinner of one of the 10 Best Foods for Your Heart without breaking any laws, be cool and stay calm.
Chewing gum in Singapore
Gum has been banned in the southeast Asian sovereign state since 1992, because Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew thought it would lead to “mischief-making” like “putting chewing gum on our subway train doors so that they don’t open.” A single piece of gum could land you a fine of $1000. Do it a second time and you’ll owe the state $2000. A third time means you’ll be forced into hard labor, cleaning the streets while wearing a sign that says “I’m a litterer.” It’s a shame, because chewing gum can actually be a great way to activate your metabolism.
Being drunk on a cow in Scotland
Driving drunk is no laughing matter. But riding a cow while drunk? Still dangerous, but undeniably weird (and funny). Sadly, thanks to the Licensing Act 1872, it’s also illegal, and could land you a £200 fine and almost a year in jail. Remember: having a criminal record is definitely not cool if you’re a man over 40.
Calling a woman a “slut” in Oklahoma
This law—created back in 1910, long before we could even imagine something like Internet trolls—made it illegal to “orally or otherwise, falsely and maliciously or falsely and wantonly impute to any female, married or unmarried, a want of chastity.” Back then, you could end up in jail for 90 days and have to pay the state $500; if this were put into place around the country nowadays, the Internet trolls might finally think twice before harassing women online. For more advice on how to speak to women, here’s 40 Things Men Should Never Say to a Woman in Bed.
Naming your baby something stupid in Denmark
It might seem a little oppressive that parents are only legally allowed to pick between 33,000 government-approved names for their newborns. But then again, if it means living in a world where we never have to read about celebrity kids named Blue Ivy, Pilot Inspektor, or Apple, maybe it’s not the worst idea. For more on parenting, here are 11 Leading Men Who Embraced Fatherhood Later in Life.
You or your future spouse were unconscious during your nuptials in Germany
A wedding is a magical day, and you probably want to be awake for some of it. At least the exchanging vows part. In Germany, a wedding is declared invalid if one or both of the participants were “in a state of unconsciousness” or “did not know at the time of the marriage that it was a marriage.” Which, we admit, seems fair. Nobody wants to wake up from a coma and realize, oh crap, I married who?
To make sure your partner knows what they’re getting into, you need to propose when you’re both conscious—preferably by using one of these 20 Best Ways to Absolutely Nail Your Marriage Proposal.
Throwing fecal matter at somebody in Utah
Lots of countries and other U.S. states have no spitting laws, but this Utah criminal code gets very detailed with the substances you shouldn’t fling around like an angry zoo monkey. No saliva, blood, urine, or “fecal material.” We’re glad somebody in government finally put their foot down and said, “We’re sick and tired of wiping your poo off our face!” And on the subject of travel, here are 20 Life-Changing Trips from Famous Travelers.
Hiking naked in Switzerland
Hiking naked through Switzerland used to be a thing, apparently. “Hiking in clothes is too constrictive,” one nude hiking enthusiast once told Time Magazine. But since 2011, thanks to some inconsiderate nude hiker whose unsolicited naked ass was witnessed by a family, hiking in the buff could get you fined 100 Swiss francs (around $103). Pro tip: Keep the nakedness in the bedroom, and make sure you know the 5 Things Smart Men Never Say to a Naked Woman.
Kissing someone in Indiana while having a mustache
Any law that contains the sentence, “Mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans,” is a legal document you probably don’t want to mess with. Beards, on the other hand, don’t seem to be a problem. If you’re still not sure whether to go full-on beard, though, Let These 10 Goddesses Decide for You.
Crushing a can of beer between your boobs in Western Australia
You could be charged a fine of $1000 for this offense. But don’t let the fine stop you—we’re pretty sure you could start a Kickstarter and raise that money in about five seconds. And while we’re talking about beer, here’s The Best Craft Beer in Every U.S. State.
Peeing in the ocean in Portugal
The most amazing thing about this weird law is how impossible it is to enforce. There’s no such thing as chemicals that reveal urine. And according to a 2014 Procter & Gamble survey, two out of three beachgoers admit to peeing in the ocean. Sorry, Portugal, but you’re fighting a losing battle.
Driving a dirty car in Russia
Although dirty car fines in Russia have been around since 2006, it’s still unclear what exactly qualifies an automobile as filthy. In a readers’ poll conducted by the Russian newspaper Izvestiya, 46% agreed that a car is dirty if it’s license plate is no longer visible. How does that happen? Are Russians parking their cars in swamps? Regardless, you sure won’t be tempted to get these cars dirty—meet the Leaders of the Pack: the Best New Cars for 2018.
Forgetting to close the gate in Nevada
Hey, if you opened the gate, you need to close it, please. What were you, born in a barn? Close the gate! Fine, we’re making it a misdemeanor. Maybe now you’ll just close the gate when we ask you nicely!
Driving without a breathalyzer in France
When this law was introduced in 2012, forgetting to pack a breathalyzer in your glovebox so the police could bust you for a DUI more easily came with a small fine of about €11 ($13 USD). Today, however, it’s just strongly encouraged. No word on whether you’re also required to provide cops with handcuffs to slap on your wrists.
Masturbating in Indonesia
There’s a lot of crazy, inaccurate information on the Internet. For instance, you might’ve read stories that the punishment for masturbation in Indonesia was decapitation. That’s untrue; Indonesia knows that taking somebody’s head for such a crime makes no sense. At worst, getting caught doing so in Indonesia just means you’ll be rotting in a prison for a measly 32 months. Worth it? You decide on that one. While you’re figuring it out, you might want to consult the Classy Man’s Guide to Adjusting His Package in Public.
Climbing a tree in Oshawa, Ontario
Who doesn’t remember lazy summer days as a kid, climbing trees with your pals? And then paying the $250 fine, because despite living in a country with 318 billion trees—which breaks down to about 8,953 trees per person—apparently climbing even one of them is nothing short of a terrorist act.
Dying in Sarpourenx, France
Unless you already own a burial plot in this tiny southwestern French village, leaving this mortal coil while within the borders of Sarpourenx is strictly prohibited. “Offenders will be severely punished,” the mayor declared in a 2008 decree. How he intended to punish a dead body was never explicitly explained.
Feeding the pigeons in Venice
How much does it cost to feed the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy? Around $10 for a bag of bird seed. And then a $700 fine for conspiracy to collaborate in the making of bird poop bombs that will be aimed squarely at Venice’s historical buildings. Better to spend your money at the Gritti Palace, instead, one of the Best Luxury Hotels in Europe.
Causing a nuclear explosion in Germany
Wait, that mushroom cloud over the city is your fault? Not cool. If you don’t turn into a radioactive zombie like the rest of us, you’re spending the next five years in jail. It’s the law, man.
Teaching a monkey to smoke cigarettes in South Bend, Indiana
We don’t want to pick favorites, but this may be our favorite weird law. It harkens back to 1924, when a chimpanzee in South Bend was found guilty of smoking a cigarette and fined $5. The monkey (or probably his owner) paid the fine, and jail time was avoided for the wheezing chimp. There hasn’t been another incidence of smoking monkeys in Indiana since. Coincidence?
Paying with too many coins in Canada
We can absolutely get behind this law. And the Currency Act of 1985 even provides a detailed breakdown of the pocket change glass ceiling. You can’t pay five dollars in nickels, or ten dollars in dimes. Sorry, Grandpa, nobody wants your damn change!
Enjoying chili sauce while in a Peruvian prison
This law dates back to 1973, when Peru’s Interior Minister decided that serving chili sauce and other spicy foods to prison inmates would just “arouse their sexual desires constantly.” Who knew that eliminating sex crimes would be as easy as banning sriracha? (Good thing the minister didn’t know about the Ultimate Smoothie for Boosting Your Sex Drive.)
Being an annoying jackhole in the Philippines
It’s right there in paragraph 2 of Article 287 of the Revised Penal Code: Any “unjust vexation” is punishable by arrest and a fine of up to 200 pesos. What exactly is “unjust vexation?” During a 2009 Philippines court case, it was described as any behavior or language that “could unjustifiably annoy or vex an innocent person.” Finally, a law against being a jerk for no reason.
Catnapping or dognapping in Wisconsin
We had no idea this was a thing, but apparently in Wisconsin enough people are stealing other people’s cats and dogs that they had to make a law to stop it. But now we’re curious—when a catnapping occurs, are there ransom demands? Has anybody ever left a briefcase filled with unmarked bills at an abandoned parking lot so they could get Mr. Whiskers back? And to all the dog-lovers out there, there’s really no need to steal your neighbor’s mutt—here, we made you this guide to prove it: How to Buy the Perfect Dog.
Having sex on church steps in Birmingham, England
As this edict from Birmingham proves, the devil is in the details. Forbidding sex “on the steps of any church after the sun goes down” is a perfectly acceptable demand, as is the £25 per person fine. But by specifying “after the sun goes down,” were they implying that getting our freak on outside a church is perfectly acceptable during the day? Well, only one way to find out. Who wants to take a sexcation to Birmingham?
Marrying your first cousin in Utah if you’re not both over 65
Finally, a state marriage law that enforces what we already suspected. Getting hitched to a cousin is just gross—unless you’re both really old and wrinkly, then it’s super-romantic. Wait, what?
Owning a satellite dish in Malaysia
Feel like catching up on the latest season of Game of Thrones while in Malaysia? Owning a satellite dish that gets foreign TV might cost you $100,000 in fines and two years in prison, on top of getting your dish confiscated. This may be one of those times when you read the books instead. If you’re trying to catch up, know these Secrets of Speed Reading and you’ll be reading a book a day.
Flying a kite until it aggravates somebody off in Australia
All weird laws have to originate somewhere. So there existed some guy, living in Victoria, Australia during the mid-60s, who got so annoyed by strangers brazenly flying kites right in front of him, with no respect for his feelings, that he declared, “There needs to be a law against this!” And so there is, the Summary Offences Act of 1966, which forbids operating a kite “to the annoyance of any person.” Your reign of terror is over, kite enthusiasts.
Driving drunk in El Salvador
What’s that? This doesn’t sound like an especially bizarre law? You’re right, it’s not. I mean, except for how it’s enforced. In the U.S., if you’re caught driving while intoxicated, you should expect some jail time and to have your license suspended. In El Salvador, they put you in front of a firing squad.
Entering the Houses of Parliament wearing a full suit of armor
This statute goes back to 1313, when a guy dressed in armor walking into a government building meant some serious stuff was about to go down. Nowadays, seeing a guy in armor usually means you’re at a Ren Faire.
Wearing flip-flops in Capri, Italy
Not just flip flops, any shoes categorized as “noisy footwear,” whether it’s high heels or wood clogs. If it squeaks, claps, bangs, or makes any noise reminiscent of fingernails on a chalkboard, the mayor wants it banned to “protect public security.” A huge relief if your biggest health concern is being momentarily disturbed by a faint squeaking sound in the distance. If you’re worried about other common health issues, though, try one of the 9 Medical Tests You Should Always Demand from Your Doctor to make sure you’re in top shape.
Cursing while being naked and releasing balloons in a public park in Toronto
Not allowing a chimney sweep to enter your home in Germany, even if you don’t have a chimney
There may not be many German homes with chimneys anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can deny a chimney sweep access to your home whenever they feel like it. (These days, they’re probably just checking for carbon monoxide emissions.)
Not visiting your parents enough in China
The “Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People” law, which went into effect in 2013, makes it illegal to avoid your parents because they drive you crazy. “Those who live far away from parents should go home often,” the law declares. Does a quick weekend trip for Thanksgiving count as “often”?
Showing up for your own wedding in Montana is not mandatory
Are you not in the mood to put on a tux and stand up in front of friends and family to declare your eternal love to one person for the rest of your life? No worries, at least if you live in Montana. Find a buddy to fill in as your proxy, doing the “I do” contract work and kissing the bride technicalities, and you can spend your wedding day at home, watching TV, and binge-watching the Godfather movies. (Helpful hint: You technically need to be in the military for this to work.)
Going commando in Thailand
It’s one of those laws that nobody wants to be in charge of enforcing. Can you imagine ending up in a career working for an underwear security checkpoint? “Excuse me, sir, I’m just going to have to check your pants for tightie-whities.” Just do everybody a favor and make sure to pack your underwear if you’re heading to Thailand. And if you need to restock, try one of the 50 Best New Pairs of Underwear for Men.
Being in possession of more than 110 pounds of potatoes in Western Australia
We’ve got Big Tobacco, but in Australia they’re up against Big Potato. The Potato Marketing Corporation was so paranoid that competing potato suppliers might be smuggling spuds into their territory that they pushed for these strict regulations in 1946. If you were caught with too many potatoes, the fine would be a whopping $2,000. Calculating for inflation, that comes to around $26,500 today. For having too many potatoes!
Selling your kids into slavery in Florida
Sure, it can be tempting. Every parent has daydreamed about it at least once. (Don’t lie!) But in Florida, the fleeting fantasies you were never seriously going to follow through on are off the table. The Sunshine State wants to make this clear: Your children can absolutely not be offered up for sale. Know How to Buy Your Kid A Future, don’t let some stranger buy your kid.
Not listening to Nickelback in Canada
As stipulated by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, one in every five songs—or roughly 35% of what’s played on the radio—must be a Canadian artist. So if you’re kicking out the jams in Canada and those jams don’t include Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Barenaked Ladies or (deep breath) Nickelback, you’re a criminal.
Being fat in Japan
In the country that gave us sumo wrestling, being a little thick around the waist could get you in legal trouble. If you’re between the ages of 40 and 79, your doctor is required to measure your waist, and if you don’t fall within legal limits—for men, a waistline not measuring over 33.5 inches, and every woman nothing over 35.5 inches—you’ll be reported to the government for “re-education.” It sounds downright Orwellian to us. If you were already thinking of slimming down, though, try this Single Greatest Full-Body Fat-Loss Workout.
Wearing camouflage in the Caribbean
First of all, why are you wearing camouflage on a Caribbean island? Just put on a bathing suit and call it a day. There’s just no reason to blend into your surroundings while visiting a vacation destination like Barbados, especially if they have a law called the Defence Act of 2006, which prohibits clothing “made from any disruptive pattern materials used for making the military uniform commonly called the camouflage uniform.”
Bringing an elephant to the beach in Granville, France
It’s not that France hates elephants or the organizations that employ elephants. “Circuses are more than welcome,” a Granville official said in a public statement. The problem is their elephant turds. Listen, if you could get your elephant to crap in a public restroom stall like every other respectful beach visitor, there wouldn’t be a problem.
Owning a comfortable bed in Buenos Aires
Where did you get the crazy idea that sleeping on a mattress was supposed to be a pleasing experience? As the Argentina Independent reported, local lawmakers were concerned that “such an indulgence induces and encourages lascivious feelings.” No doubt about that. Add some hot sauce, and you and your partner will end up pregnant with triplets. If you’re not planning on moving to Buenos Aires, you should remember that a good, comfy mattress is one of the 20 Purchases That Are Always Worth the Money.
Not cuddling in the Cuddle Puddles
Let’s end with a law that everyone can agree on. If you’re visiting the “Cuddle Puddle” hot springs in Swaziland (in southern Africa) and doing anything but cuddling, you’re just asking for trouble. Since 1985, political officials have warned that they would “take action” if “intercourse continued in them.” And people have mostly complied. Except for the occasional horny teenager, who just doesn’t understand that a “cuddle puddle” is for cuddling. C’mon, people, it’s right there in the name!
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