·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Weird Crimes

Strange Laws from Around the World

— August 6, 2020

There’s a wide cultural diversity around the globe and this has led to different sorts of regulations and controls that once made sense and applied to day-to-day behavior.

Laws should be understood considering the context where they were created. The interpretation of regulations depends on the particular people, behavior, and timeline that served as a framework for lawmakers to decide over the need to stipulate obligations and sanctions. 

This article is meant to illustrate the wide range of laws that exist around the globe and that may sound strange without taking into account cultural and historical factors. Some of them might even seem outdated, but to some countries, they still apply and enforce penalties for their citizens that disobey them.

Here’s a list :

  • German names

In Germany, there’s a law created with a list of 7,000 government-sanctioned names for newborn babies. Parents are not allowed to name their children after an option that is not included on that list. 

  • Drunk Cow Riding is illegal in Scotland

This 1872 law mandates people not to be drunk whenever they find themselves in charge of a horse, cow, carriage, or a steam engine. Under the same Scottish law, it’s also forbidden to have a loaded firearm while being drunk.

  • Switzerland has toilet curfew

In Switzerland, it’s against the law to flush a toilet after 10 p.m. in an apartment building, since it’s considered noise pollution. 

  • No feather mattresses in Argentina

In Argentina, feather mattresses are banned because “such an indulgence induces and encourages lascivious feelings”. The relative discomfort of other types of mattresses apparently would discourage any lasciviousness…

  • Oklahoma’s #1

This one’s a favorite of many. As it happens, whaling is strictly banned in Oklahoma, which at first glance seems like an eco-friendly law that aims to protect the species, right? Only thing is, the state of Oklahoma is surrounded by… land. Not much whaling taking place anytime soon.

  • Another Scottish customary law

Even though this is not a modern-day regulation, it hasn’t been derogated so far. So, in the case of a stranger knocking on someones’ door in Scotland asking to use the toilet, it is mandatory to let them in. 

  • Registration in North Carolina Hotels

Something to be aware of: If a couple requests to share a room in a North Carolina Hotel and claim to be married, since common law marriage rules in the state, that couple would then, legally, be married. So here, registering as married, makes it so. 

  • Don’t die in Parliament

In England, there’s a law enforced to this day that bans people from dying in Parliament. Also, according to another law dating back to 1313, it is forbidden to wear a suit of armor in the Parliament. So in case you were planning to, don’t. 

  • Reincarnation with permission

Reincarnation is not allowed for Tibetan Buddhist monks once they’ve died if they haven’t been granted express government permission. Despite what can be imagined, this is quite recent legislation of the Chinese government, from August 2007.

  • Oklahoma’s #2

Here’s another interesting regulation of Oklahoma: a fine can be issued to any person who slanders a woman in the state. If any woman is called a name that suggests she is not chaste, regardless of whether she’s married or not, a fine between $25 and $500 can be charged.

  • Winnie the Pooh and Poland

It turns out that Poland issued a ban on Winnie the Pooh representations or statues in any playgrounds or other children areas. Apparently, the reason behind this is that the lovable yellow bear doesn’t wear any pants and has non-gender-specific genitalia. 

  • Overweight is fined in Japan

With the intention of preventing obesity in its citizens, Japan has the Metabo Law that requires people between 20 and 74 years old to have an annual waist measurement performed. They set a maximum waistline limit of 85 cm (33.5 in) for men and 90 cm (35 in) for women. 

  • Wrestle a Bear is Illegal in South Africa

Now, what’s interesting is that South Africa does not actually have any bears – but hey, the nation is forward-thinking. If one day it happens to have some bears, it would be illegal to wrestle with them.

  • Frowning in Milan, Italy

Here, it’s illegal for citizens to frown in public, with the exceptions of funerals or visits to someone in a hospital. This was prescribed originally as a city regulation during the Austro-Hungarian time and hasn’t been repealed so far. 

  • In Samoa, it is illegal to forget your wife’s birthday

    Angry woman at table with empty plate; image by Alex Iby, via
    Angry woman at table with empty plate; image by Alex Iby, via

If a woman was the first one to initiate this law – kudos! If a man was the first one to initiate this law, kudos to his wife, who was probably behind it.

  • Singapore law bans gum and gum chewing

Gum chewing has been illegal since 1922, with the exception of nicotine and dental gums that offer a therapeutic value. Otherwise, anyone importing, selling, or making gum in Singapore can get fined and even face jail time. 

  • Building Sandcastles is illegal

In Spain and in some places in Italy (such as Eraclea) people could be fined for building a sandcastle, and the value of the fines depend on the location. Kids are included in this restriction, and their parents would have to pay the bill. This is seen as a matter of “public decorum”.

  • A lion to the movies

 In Baltimore, Maryland, it’s illegal to bring a lion into a cinema theater. 

  • In Russia, it is illegal to drive a dirty car
  • Skydiving in Florida

It’s illegal for a married woman to go skydiving in Florida on a Sunday. 

  • Cowboy boots in Blythe, California

In this city, there’s a law that prohibits anyone from wearing cowboy boots unless they own at least two heads of cattle.

  • Bigfoot on British Columbia

According to the records, the first sightings of Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch), took place in the early 1800s. By law, in British Columbia, Canada, it is illegal to kill him/her/it. Even though there hasn’t been reliable proof of its existence, this law states that anyone who kills it could be fined up to $250,000 if the shooter doesn’t have a proper hunting license. There’s no specification that this regulation extends to other mythological creatures, but at the southern side of the border, Washington State has a similar law. 

Pretty interesting right? 

Aside from what may seem funny, it is important to be aware that each place in the world has its own history. There’s a wide cultural diversity around the globe and this has led to different sorts of regulations and controls that once made sense and applied to day-to-day behavior. This is one of the reasons why hiring a legal translator or legal interpreting services is so important – not just to adapt language, but to make the connection between the legal culture of two different nations.

Join the conversation!