The newspaper The Times has published 25 strangest and most amusing laws of different countries. Inspired by the example of the British edition, here is another, more comprehensive, hit parade of the eccentric and frankly funny regulations from the world legislative practice.
The peculiarities of the national legislations.
One can study the traditions and the peculiarities of the mentality of the nations via the strange laws. In this regard a form of the statute is the same product of culture as a movie, a book or a picture. Australians have shown themselves to be very naive people in the alleged «mirror of laws: there is a law in Australia, which forbids to walk in the streets in black clothes, in felt shoes and with the face painted with blacking, because all the above-mentioned things constitute the costume of a night thief. Moreover, there is a law here, which orders the persons, who practice the carrier’s trade for money, to take hay with them. Admittedly, no one sees to it that modern taxi-drivers adhere to this rule – they are lucky not to have been transporting their passengers by means of a team of horses for a long time already.
The inhabitants of Switzerland treat the repose of their associates overly respectfully. It occurred to the legislators of this very country to forbid discharging water down the toilet loudly after 10 p.m., because it may disturb the neighbours. However, the modern Swiss sanitary engineering makes the violation of this law almost impossible. The waste tanks are produced with the heightened soundproofing; moreover, they are constructed in such a way that water flows down the special pipes instead of coming tumbling down with a crash.
The city-state Singapore is world-famous for its neatness and high fines for the attempt to violate this neatness. Thus they fine for the garbage, tossed out in the street, in the sum equivalent to 600 dollars. Moreover, the sale of chewing gum had been forbidden for 12 years here – a radical measure of the struggle against the hooligans, who stick it anywhere. The prohibition was revoked only in 2004, when chewing gum appeared on the counters of the Singaporean drugstores.
The law, according to which women are prohibited from wearing pants, was passed in African Swaziland not long ago. The regulation was sanctioned by the local monarch, who proclaimed the return to the traditions, whereas pants represent the untraditional underwear for the women of Swaziland. The punishment for the wear of pants is rather humiliating: the soldiers snatch them off the women and tear them in small pieces. Admittedly, it remains unclear, how the arms of the law will see the lingerie, if according to the law, which was passed by the same monarch, the women of Swaziland more than 10 years old mustn’t wear the overknee skirts.
The contempt of the King (the Queen).
It is forbidden by law to trample on money in Thailand. At first sight the measure is absolutely senseless, however some details will make the situation clear. The matter is that the King of this country is represented on all the notes and coins of Thailand. Stepping on his image is a sign of disrespect for the monarch, for which the imprisonment is expected.
Finally, it is still prohibited to name the pigs after Napoleon in France. It must be noted that in this case the spread of George Orwell’s book «Animal farm» on the territory of the country should also be forbidden, because the hog a.k.a. Napoleon is one of the main characters of the work.
The survivals of the past.
Many strange laws, which are nominally currently in force, are nothing more than the survivals of the past, sometimes of quite a remote one.
Most often such regulations are found in Great Britain and in the USA, where the legislation hasn’t been reconsidered completely over the ages. There even exist the public groups in the USA, which fight for the abolition of the «foolish» laws. This occupation is not one of the easy ones: an absurd, long unused law needs to be found, after all, and it is also necessary to check the following fact up – what if it was already abolished?
Let’s consider, for example, the British law, mentioned by The Times, which prescribes two hours of archery exercises per day for every male subject, who is more than 14 years old. This decree was issued by King Edward III as far back as the 14-th century; he is also famous for the prohibition of the ball game, which is known as football nowadays. Football was finally allowed in 1603. The British were officially released from the obligation to practice
archery daily under Queen Victoria, in 1863. Admittedly, there is a suspicion that they had stopped practicing it considerably earlier.
The Times also reminds that any freeman is allowed to lead the herd of sheep across London Bridge duty-free in London. Moreover, a freeman has an opportunity to lead geese in Cheapside. But a plague-stricken person is prohibited from taking a taxi in the streets.
Moreover, there exists a law, according to which two men are forbidden to have sex with each other in a house, where the third person is present. This law was enacted at the end of the 16-th century as the struggle against the homosexual brothels, which appeared in the large cities of England.
Private life and public morals.
A gynecologist has the right to examine the genitals of a woman in Bahrain, however he (she) can’t look directly at them, but only at their reflection in the mirror. The sexual intercourse with animals is allowed by law in a number of Moslem countries, but exclusively with females. A person faces the prospect of the death penalty for the liaison with a mail animal in Lebanon. They can decapitate for masturbation in Indonesia.
Only the so-called missionary position is allowed in the State of Florida, and it is forbidden to kiss the woman’s breast during the intercourse. It is not allowed to have sex involving the «horsewoman» position in Massachusetts.
The legislators of countries and states also show a somewhat inappropriate eagerness in the matter of the defence of public morals. A man in skirt may be arrested in Italy, for example. Of course it is clear, what men in skirts are in question, but what should the Scotch, which revere their traditions, do in Italy?
Women are prohibited from wearing patent-leather shoes in the State of Ohio: it is considered that shoes can reflect underclothes. It is prohibited to have been kissing for a longer period of time than five minutes in Iowa.
The law of the State of Florida, according to which single women are prohibited from parachuting on Sundays, is the last one in this category. Perhaps it is also connected with public morals.
It is prohibited to conceal anything from the tax officer in case you don’t want him to know it in the British regulations concerning the tax evasion (issued in 2006). For all that in case you don’t mind if the tax officer gets to know of some data, you are not obliged to report them to him.
It is prohibited to lead being blindfolded in the State of Alabama. It is strictly forbidden to water fish with alcohol in Ohio. It is not allowed to kill birds in the City of Boulder, Colorado. Moreover, it is unlawful to own domestic animals there. Thus everyone who keeps a cat or a dog is officially called «the attendant of the animal».
A wife must get the written consent of her husband to have the dentures made in the State of Vermont. The head of any dead whale found ashore in London belongs to the King. The tail of such a whale belongs to the Queen in case if she needs the baleen for the corset.
The laws, which may be called absurd quite unambiguously, are also enacted in the post-Soviet region. Thus holding not less than three contraceptive devices in the medicine chest is prescribed for motorcar enthusiasts in Byelorussia. Not only women, but also men and even priests were mercilessly fined for the absence of contraceptive devices. Admittedly, according to recent data, the Byelorussian authorities have abolished this rule in 2007.