Weird Laws That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head
26th May, 2021
The world is a crazy place. So, we have laws to ensure that there is peace and stability. However, even laws can be excessive and sometimes, utterly absurd. Do you know that in the UK you could get into trouble for holding a salmon suspiciously? Or making sandcastles is a transgression in the Italian city of Eraclea? No, we are not making this up! Intrigued by these odd ordinances? Then check out these 30 weirdest laws around the world that will make you go “Whaaaatttttt?”
You dare not forget the missus’ birthday (Samoa)
Forgetting your wife’s birthday in any other country could get you just an earful. In Samoa, however, things take a hilarious turn. Your poor memory could cost you big time. A little tip: the next time you forget your sweetheart’s birthday, be grateful that you’re not going to prison and make up for the blunder. Also, don’t forget her birthday, especially when you’re in Samoa.
When in Rome, leave the goldfish alone (Italy)
In 2005, Rome officially announced that confining goldfish in those little round bowls and giving them away as contest prizes in plastic bags is a cruel practice. The new law mandated that goldfish deserve proper-sized aquariums and anything less than that will be considered animal abuse. If this ban is defied, a big penalty is to be paid.
Build castles in the air but not on the beach (Italy)
Looks like 2008 was a weird year for another European country. The Italian mayors were given some extra law-and-order powers and boy, did they make the most of it. They issued the most outlandish by-laws to improve “public decorum.” If you are on the Eraclea beach, indulging in the innocent act of building a sandcastle could land you in a pickle. We are not sure why something as trivial as this is on the Italian radar of delinquency.
Leave the Sasquatch alone! Well, if it exists (US)
Hoax or not, you can’ slay a Bigfoot in Skamania County, Washington. It all started with the controversial Patterson-Gimlin film that drew a deluge of believers to the Pacific Northwest. While the Bigfoot mania was at its peak, the county’s authorities grew increasingly anxious as several visitors were carrying hunting weapons, which was detrimental for both the creature and residents. To prevent any accidents, the county passed a by-law that criminalized the killing of Bigfoot. If you’re still interested in hunting this mythical creature, you can head to Texas, where it is perfectly okay.
A glass of wine and no UFOs please (France)
Let the extraterrestrial creatures be warned that they are not welcome in the quaint village of ChÃ¢teauneuf-du-Pape. The celebrated wine-producing hamlet passed a strange ordinance back in 1954 stating, "Any aircraft, known as flying saucer or flying cigar, which should land on the territory of the community will be immediately held in custody." Ahem. The mayor at the time, Mr. Lucien Jeune, came up with this bizarre sanction when a man reportedly witnessed â€œtwo Martian visitors at his garden gate.” We need some Chateauneuf-du-Pape to process this.
Fodder is forbidden for pigeons (San Francisco, US)
If there is anything that the Fog City hates more than the Trump administration, it’s its citizens feeding the jittery pigeons. If caught feeding them, you will be slapped with a massive penalty. San Francisco authorities even encourage its citizens to report people feeding pigeons to the police department.
Winnie The Pooh is Big No-No for the Polish (Poland)
If you think hiking butt naked in the Swiss Alps was a big deal, then hold your breath for this. The Polish have banned the beloved children’s character Winnie The Pooh because he is viewed as a “hermaphrodite” bear who lacks “complete wardrobe.” Their scathing criticism also involved an outrageous theory about author A. A. Milne. Like Winne said, “Some people care too much.”
“Keep the change, ya filthy animal” (Canada)
While we are surprised that paying with too many dimes and nickels is outlawed, we understand why. You wouldnâ€™t want to stand behind a person in a grocery store who is settling a big bill while counting nickels. According to the Canadian Currency Act of 1985, vendors can refuse your money, if you try to purchase something worth more than $5 in nickels, $25 in loonies, and $40 in toonies.
Whaling ban in Oklahoma (US)
Now, you must be thinking, ‘whats wrong with that law?’ After all, protecting these creatures from abuse is a noble initiative. Well, then you are probably terrible at geography because Oklahoma is a landlocked state. Though in all fairness, if the glaciers keep melting and sea levels keep rising, Oklahoma might stand a chance to have a coast one day. Far-fetched, we know!
Die at your own risk (France)
In 2008, Gerard Lalanne, the mayor of Sarpourenx, a tiny French hamlet, announced that it is illegal to die unless you own a burial plot. This was because the cemetery lacked space to accommodate corpses. “Offenders will be severely punished,” warned the mayor. We are still not clear how the mayor intended to reprimand the dead. A real head-scratcher!
No reincarnation without permission (China)
The Chinese government takes totalitarianism to the next level by regulating a monk’s big plans for the next life. Buddhist monks have to seek ‘approval’ from the Chinese government to reincarnate themselves. It seems like this law was more of an absurd political move to mock the Dalai Lama. We can expect the Chinese government to actively contribute to the process of selecting the next Dalai Lama. *Sigh*
Donâ€™t show up but still tie the knot (US)
If turning up at your wedding is not your priority, then you would love this Montana law of proxy weddings. For your big day, you can find someone to fill in as a proxy and you’d be legally married. In fact, the state allows double proxy weddings, which means your better half doesn’t need to be present either. At first, this rule was at everyone’s advantage; however, nearly 10 years ago, the law was amended. Now, at least one of two getting married must be a Montana local or out on active military service.
Not a Sumo? Then lose those pounds (Japan)
In 2008, Japan undertook a rather peculiar way to manage obesity. Any person between the ages of 40 and 74 will be required to get their waist measured. The state-prescribed waistline for men is up to 33.5 inches and 35.5 inches for women. Anything over that won’t be accepted, and the citizen will be reported to the government.
Don’t look fishy while holding a fish (UK)
You could get into trouble if you are holding a salmon suspiciously. Yes, you read that right. According to the Salmon Act of 1986, such sketchy behavior implies that the salmon could be illegally fished. The ‘proper handling’ of the fish is aimed to mitigate any poaching activities. Wonder what’s the right way to hold a fatty fish!
Au naturel in nature? Not the best idea! (Switzerland)
Back in 2011, a German man was fined 100 Swiss francs (almost $109) after he was spotted by a local family hiking naked in the Swiss Alps. While Switzerland doesn’t have a specific law banning nudity in the outdoors, it does have one pertaining to public indecency. Moreover, there are many Swiss cantons like Appenzell that have a more conservative culture, so it’s best not to enrage the locals.
A gate to misdemeanor (US)
Partying hard or a drunken wedding might not get you in trouble. However, if you don’t close a gate in Nevada, you could be guilty of a misdemeanor and you could end up paying a big fat penalty. So next time a Nevadan asks you to close the gate, don’t think twice!
Chew a gum but only if you have a $1000 (Singapore)
The sovereign city-state outlawed gum in 1992 as former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew believed it would lead to tomfoolery. In an interview, when BBC’s Peter Day reluctantly suggested that “chewing gum stuck to the pavements might be a sign that the desired new spirit of creativity has arrived,” Yew retorted "Putting chewing gum on our subway train doors so they don't open, I don't call that creativity. I call that mischief making." If caught with gum, a $1,000 fine will be slapped. No, thanks. We’ll just pop a mint.
Chuck camouflage in the Caribbean (Caribbean)
The Caribbean nations, including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent, forbid tourists to sport camouflage clothing. Typically, it’s the color of their army’s uniform. While detention is not on the cards, you will have to bid adieu to your camo wardrobe and pay a fine. Besides, you don’t want to be stopped by immigration and spend money on new sarongs and shorts at the airport.
Water guns are malicious (Cambodia)
It seems that the Cambodians can get unruly with water guns. So, Governor Chea Sophara prohibited the import and sale of all water guns in Phnom Penh. He argued that such toys could lead to disorderly conduct during the Khmer New Year. Talk about being a killjoy!
Must you have a mustache? (US)
Mustaches are illegal in Indiana if the person “has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans." Err, okay. You may have to either sacrifice that sweet mustache or quit snogging your beloved. We’d love to know the story that compelled the Indiana authorities to take such drastic measures.
No stupid baby names please (Denmark)
Who would have thought that baby names could cause such a big furor in the Danish government. Parents are only permitted to select government-authorized names for their little ones. If an unapproved baby name is picked, the Copenhagen University's Names Investigation Department and the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs will review it. It is amusing to know that names like North, Blue Ivy, or Apple probably won’t fly in Denmark.
Even flip-flops can cause people to flip out (Italy)
The locals of the beautiful island of Capri hate when unruly tourists disrupt their peace, especially with noisy footwear. So naturally, the Italian island outlawed excessively noisy footwear. In fact, a couple was even arrested for committing this shocking crime. If you are intending to visit Capri anytime soon, take the flip-flops off your packing list.
Your grand romantic gesture could be a grand felony (Australia)
If you are planning to recreate a rom-com scene where you confess your feelings to the love of your life at their wedding, then we’d just like to say, abort mission! According to the Section 7A of the Summary Offences Act 1953, disrupting a wedding, funeral, or religious service/procession on purpose could land you in the slammer for two years or a fine of $10,000. So, ladies and gentlemen, any love declarations and objections should be raised well in advance.
Why did the chicken cross the road in Quitman, Georgia? (US)
Looks like someone took this trite joke quite seriously. Lawmakers in Quitman, Georgia, didn’t want their famous poultry behaving boisterously. So, they want owners to ensure that their chickens don’t cross the road. We are curious to find out what happens if a wayward chicken were to make the aforementioned attempt.
A little consciousness doesn’t hurt (Germany)
Nobody wants to wake up one morning to find out that they have made the biggest mistake of their life by marrying someone unwittingly. Thankfully, the Germans are a tad specific about this scenario and will deem a marriage as illegal if one or both the participants didn’t realize that it was a marriage at the time or were in the state of unconsciousness. Well, it does save you from a lot of emotional drama and paperwork.
A zonked mate is better left unserved (Australia)
In Australia, it is illegal for bars and pubs to get a patron too drunk. Failure to comply with this law could cost the bar a whopping penalty of nearly $67,000. So donâ€™t be surprised if a server denies you another round. Save the bar-hopping for other countries instead.
When drunk as a lord, don’t ride the cow (Scotland)
Speaking of drinking, the Scottish turn things up a notch by making it illegal to ride a cow while being intoxicated. Under the act, drunk individuals are also barred from being in charge of a horse, a steam engine, a carriage, or a loaded firearm. Flouting this law means a penalty of Â£200 or 51 weeks in prison.
No one dreams of treehouses in Oshawa (Canada)
At some point, we’ve all pondered why Canadians are so nice. Blame the maple syrup, folks! Jokes apart, but if you are caught climbing trees in Oshawa, Ontario, you would have to pay a fine of about $250.
And when in Zurich, don’t let the goldfish be alone (Switzerland)
The Swiss have strong feelings about owning a solitary goldfish. According to the law, it is cruel to force a goldfish to live in isolation. This is because they are social animals that move in shoals when they’re in the ocean. It is recommended that the tank should have at least two goldfish so that they can offer companionship to one another. This law also applies to animals like budgerigars and guinea pigs.