• Qing Cao

Obscure Laws from Around the World


There are some pretty crazy laws out there. Some of them are relics from ‘more interesting’ times, and although they are no longer enforced, they are still on the statute books. It makes you wonder what would happen if you tried to exploit or some of these historical legal loopholes.

America

In Minneapolis an old law says you can be put on a chain gang if you double-park.

In Kentucky statute declares: “No female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within this state unless she is escorted by at least two officers or unless she be armed with a club.” A later amendment proposed: “The provisions of this statute shall not apply to any female weighing less than sixty pounds nor exceeding 200 pounds; nor shall it apply to female horses.”

In Atlanta, Georgia, not only is it illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole, but it’s also illegal to dress a mannequin in view of the public.

In Colorado in General no one may mutilate a rock in a state park.

In New York, the penalty for jumping off a building is death.

In Washington any motorist with criminal intentions is required to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police that he is entering the town.

In New Mexico, idiots may not vote.

In Denver, Colorado, public records offices were so swamped by requests for information on entertaining laws that possession of lists like this was banned.

In Bakersfield California, you must wear a condom if you’re having sex with Satan.

Alaska law says that you can’t look at a moose from an airplane.

It is against the law to mispronounce the name of the State of Arkansas in that State.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a woman is not to drive a car unless a man warns approaching motorists or pedestrians by walking in front of the car that is being driven.

In Virginia, there is a statute which prohibits corrupt practices or bribery by any person other than political candidates.

It is illegal to herd more than 3000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles at any one time.

In Maryland, it is still illegal for radio stations to play Randy Newman’s song ‘Short People’.

In Texas, criminals are still required to give their victims at least 24 hours oral or written notice giving details of the crime they are about to commit.

Iceland

It is illegal to blow on a lamp post.

It was once against the law to own a pet dog.

Singapore

As it is considered pornographic, you may not walk around your home nude.

It is illegal to urinate in an elevator.

United Kingdom

Any person found breaking a boiled egg at the sharp end will be sentenced to 24 hours in the village stocks (enacted by Edward VI).

In Scotland it is illegal to be drunk while in possession of a cow.

A law passed by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century has never been repealed and forbids people from eating mince pies on December 25th.

In the early 1800s it was declared illegal – and never repealed – for women to eat chocolates on a public conveyance.

A bed may not be hung out of a window.

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.

Under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don’t want him to know, though you don’t have to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing.

In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even, if she so requests, in a policeman’s helmet.

In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

In London, there is still a law that states London Taxi cabs must carry a bale of hay at all times.

Italy

A man may be arrested for wearing a skirt.

In Milan there is still a law that requires citizens to smile at all times or risk a hefty fine. The only exceptions are visiting hospitals and funerals.

In Venice all gondolas have to be painted black unless they belong to a high ranking official.

Canada

Citizens may not publicly remove bandages.

In Alberta if you are released from prison, it is required that you are given a handgun with bullets and a horse, so you can ride out of town.

In Wetaskiwin, Alberta, in 1917, it was illegal to tie a male horse next to a female horse.

Germany

In Germany a pillow can be considered a “passive” weapon.

Every office must have a view of the sky, however small.

Paraguay

Dueling is legal so long as both parties are registered blood donors.

Romania

In 1935, Mickey Mouse was banned because the authorities thought that the sight of a 10ft high rodent on screen would terrify the nation’s children.

France

No pig may be addressed as Napoleon by its owner.

An ashtray is considered a deadly weapon.

Switzerland

At one time it was against the law to slam car doors.

It is against the law for men to urinate standing up after 10pm which is the same time that it is illegal to flush the toilet.

Australia

It is illegal to roam the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes and black shoe polish on your face as these items are the tools of a cat burglar.

In Victoria only a licensed electrician is allowed to change a light bulb, and it is forbidden to wear pink hot pants after midday on a Sunday.

This story was compiled by Qing Cao and first appeared in The Obiter, a new publication by the University of South Australia Law Students’ Association. Reprinted with the permission of USALSA. Click here to read Edition 2 of The Obiter.

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