Bizarre Laws from Around the Worl

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Bizarre Laws from Around the Worl

Bizarre Laws from Around the Worl Count yourself a victim of niggling political correctness and state bureaucracy? Things could be much worse. There are some laws in existence that outdo all others in their arbitrariness, wackiness and downright questionability. Some are pretty close to home, too. Be careful next time you’re munching on a mince pie, driving a filthy vehicle or skydiving on a Saturday – you might just end up in jail. South Asia It’s illegal to chew gum in Singapore and therefore you won’t find it sold in a single store over there. A 1992 ban officially ruled out all import of the sticky stuff, although later revisions bizarrely allowed for ‘special’ gum to be brought into the country, on the grounds of its being ‘therapeutic’. Chicago’s Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company fought hard for these revisions. If you do somehow manage to sneak gum into Singapore, you face a heavy fine if caught. Singapore has also outlawed homosexuals, pornography and bungee jumping. We’ve all had to sit through detention at some point in our lives, but students aged 15 or over in Bangladesh face an altogether harsher punishment if they’re found cheating in exams: Sterner court rulings demand swindling youngsters spend a stint behind bars. Australasia The 1945 Atomic Energy Act of New Zealand rules that each high school in the country is entitled to one pound of uranium and one pound of thorium (science teachers are, presumably a constant nervous wreck). But curious little Kiwi fingers beware – creating a nuclear explosion will set you back a tidy fine of $1m. If you’re a cat owner, you could land yourself in police trouble if you send your feline friend outside with less than three bells hanging around its neck. In neighboring Australia, a law still is still extant which decrees that taxis must keep a bale of hay in the trunk. This stems from section 51 of the London Hackney Carriage Act 1831 in England, which was laid down in a time when the ‘taxis’ in question were still horse-drawn. In 1976, the Brits finally brought an end to this silly law (although the advent and rise of the motor car came decades before), but the Australians have never officially scrapped it. There’s also an Aussie myth that it’s illegal to wear pink hot pants after midday on a Sunday in Victoria. Continental Europe Whereas many cultures’ police forces accept having their picture taking as part and parcel of the job, the French are not so accommodating. It’s against the law to get a snap of a cop or cop car, even if they’re in the background. This law comes from the same force whose riot police complained last year, after plans were unveiled to scrap the beer rations included in their lunch pack. And if you own a pig in France, don’t call it Napoleon – it’s illegal. In Venice, no matter how much you’re pestered by the pigeons, if you feed them one even a crumb of bread, you’ve broken the law. If you’re a man sporting a skirt, you may also be arrested. The Swiss, on the whole a devout nation of Christians, have generally banned any form of shopping on a Sunday. Hanging out clothes to dry, washing the car and mowing the lawn on a Sunday are also forbidden. And if you’re a bloke, remember to sit down to go to the toilet after 10pm. Oh, and don’t blush, either. You wouldn’t want to break the law now would you? Germany, meanwhile, has decreed the altogether nicer law that all offices must have a view of the sky. Britain England has bandied around its fair share of crazy laws down the centuries, some of which it’s never got round to repealing. One piece of local bylaw in the city of Chester allows you to shoot a Welshman with a crossbow within the city walls after sunset. That said, you would struggle to defend yourself in court if you tried it now. The Licensing Act of 1972 declares that if you’re intoxicated in charge of a horse, cow or steam engine, you face a fine of £200. It’s also apparently illegal to hang out your washing, beat a carpet or fly a kite in the street (these misdemeanors allegedly set you back a whopping £1,000 although it’s unlikely anyone’s been prosecuted since the Victorian age). Another old law that was never amended is killjoy Oliver Cromwell’s 17th century ban on anyone eating a mince pie on Christmas Day. Russia The Soviet era was a funny old time for laws, and the government has still not gotten around to canceling a few oddities. The 1984 Administrative Code enforces a fine upon those who contact foreign citizens with the intent of purchasing items from them. Another article of the same code forbids bread to be baked with the intent of feeding it to cattle and poultry. The city of Moscow takes cleanliness on its roads seriously: if you’re found driving a dirty car, there’s a fine to face, although it’s reported that dodgy traffic cops have been taking advantage of such a ruling, deciding on their own opinion of what’s clean and what isn’t. Best to run a sponge over the chassis before every trip, then. America America is riddled with trivial little laws. In Alabama, Section 30-4-1 decrees: “All property of the wife, held by her previous to the marriage or to which she may become entitled after the marriage in any manner, is the separate property of the wife and is not subject to the liabilities of the husband.” The same law does not apply to men. This discriminatory tact continues in the State of Florida; if you’re a pregnant woman here, and decide to go skydiving on a Saturday – guess what – you’re breaking the law. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, it’s illegal to teach each other about polygamy. Presumably then, you’re only supposed to discover it by firsthand experience.

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