Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Image: Mixi's - Edite: Knowinsiders.com

Governing a big country is a tough job, and you are bound to be hated by half of the population you're ruling. Now, bear in mind, that the person on top, is also responsible for the laws, upon which, the whole democratic system is based.

And laws are passed after voting of Congress, sometimes a public vote, and then an affirmation of the president.

1. Parliaments famous Salmon Act of 1986 states that it’s illegal to hold salmon under suspicious circumstances

Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 stipulates that it is an offense to handle salmon under suspicious circumstances.

This section creates an offense in England and Wales for any person who receives or disposes of any salmon in circumstances where they believe or could reasonably believe that the salmon has been illegally fished. The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment.

The context may well make the law less weird, but even so, suspiciously holding salmon is a pretty funny offense to be arrested for.

2. Australia’s second most populated state says it illegal to change a light bulb unless you are a licensed electrician

Under Victorian law, changing a light bulb without a valid license to do so was against the law. Taking your light into your own hands brought a fine of 10 Australian dollars.

However, a revision to the 1998 Electricity Safety Act updated this law. A spokeswoman for Energy Safe Victoria said that, “While the Electricity Safety Act makes it illegal to do your own electrical work if you are not licensed, changing a light bulb and removing a plug from a socket were specifically exempted from this requirement under Order in Council G17.”

3. It is against the law not to walk your dog at least three times a day in Turin, Italy

Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Photo: American Kennel Club

Dog owners in Turin, Italy will be fined up to 500 euros if they don’t walk their pets at least three times a day, under a new law from the city’s council. Italy considers itself an animal-loving nation and in many cities stray cats and protected by law.

To enforce the law, Turin police would rely largely on the help of tipsters spotting cruel treatment by neighbors. Turin has the most stringent animal protection rules in the country. They even ban fairgrounds from giving away goldfish in bags.

4. The French town of Sarpourenx makes it a legal requirement to have bought a burial plot before dying

Some issues were had in this French town with people wantonly dying and then expecting to be buried. The mayor issued an edict forbidding people from dying within the city limits unless they had previously purchased a plot in a local cemetery. People who die anyway will be severely punished. What kind of punishment you give the dead however is as of yet unclear.

5. It’s been illegal to wear a suit of armor in the UK Parliament since 1313

In 1313, the weak-willed and disastrous Edward II of England passed the 1313 Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour. This law made it illegal to turn up at the UK’s Parliament with weapons, armor, or armed men. Edward II passed the law in response to being bullied and weakened by his rambunctious barons and noblemen. These nobles hated Edward and his lover, Piers Gaveston, and terrified the king several times by appearing before him fully armed. The tactic usually worked; Edward hoped the 1313 Statute would stop the latent threat of armed barons. It didn’t but has been in force ever since.

6. English law used to force everyone to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to kill King James I. As Catholics, Fawkes and his gang didn’t want Protestant James as king. The plot, therefore, represented high treason. In the January following November, 5, 1605, Parliament passed a law demanding people celebrate the plot’s failure. The Observance of 5th November Act 1605 demanded people celebrate the anniversary ‘with unfeigned thankfulness… for all ages to come’. If you weren’t happy about James’s deliverance, you were a traitor, too! Parliament repealed the Act in 1859, but most British people celebrate Guy Fawkes Night anyway.

7. Every wild swan in the UK has technically belonged to the crown since the 12th century

Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Photo: The Jakarta Post

Since the 12th century, the English crown has owned all wild mute swans in open water. Over time, the monarchy began allowing select, influential people to own swans in exchange for some service or other. Privileged, non-royal owners marked their birds to distinguish them from the royalty’s wild swans. Today, the Queen only exercises her right to wild, unmarked swans over parts of the Thames. The annual Swan Upping ceremony counts swans along the River Thames. Royal servants and permitted owners catch swans, check them for marks, and release them. The ceremony is conducted by the Royal Swan Marker.

8. Batman wouldn’t have lasted long in 17th century England

During Charles II’s reign, a group of vigilantes found themselves on the wrong side of the law. All apprentice boys, they tried to destroy a brothel in 1663. Unfortunately, they wound up standing trial for high treason, since ‘for men to go about to pull down brothels, with a captain and an ensign… who is safe?’ The Chief Justice convicted them. A few decades later, yet more crusaders against sin tried to burn down a brothel, and got convicted of treason. The judge acknowledged brothels ‘a nuisance’, but said destroying them took ‘the right out of the queen’s hand’.

9. In 1233, it became illegal to refuse a knighthood in England

You’d think getting a knighthood would be a great honour, but you’d be surprised. Back in the medieval period, being made a knight cost loads of money. You had to buy loads of silly clothes and ceremonial suits of armour and give liberal amounts to the king. Oh, and risk your life in battle. In 1233, tight-fisted Roger of Dudley refused to attend his own knighting ceremony after realising how much it’d cost. Alas for Roger, the last laugh came at his expense, quite literally. Henry III immediately passed a law against refusing knighthoods, and confiscated the ungrateful swine’s lands.

10. The Witchcraft Act of 1736 made it okay to be a witch, but illegal to pretend to be one

Witchcraft used to be illegal around the world. In England, witchcraft became a criminal (rather than ecclesiastical) offence after the Witchcraft Act of 1604. But when the furore over witches died down, a new age of enlightenment took over. Thus, the 1736 Witchcraft Act took a different stance. This repealed the preceding legislation that punished witchcraft with death. However, it had an interesting caveat. The Act made it illegal for anyone to ‘pretend to exercise or use any kind of witchcraft’. In other words, being a witch was fine, but pretending to be one got you a year in prison!

11. It used to be illegal to blow your nose on the street in Newmarket

Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Photo: A Growing Understanding

Newmarket, in Suffolk, UK, is the birthplace of horse racing. The sport dates back to the 12th century in Newmarket, but James I popularised it after building a palace there in 1606. From this time, the sport increased in popularity and became a big business. So big, in fact, the town passed laws to protect the horses. It used to be illegal to blow your nose in the street, lest the valuable racing horses caught your sickness. Further, anyone walking around ‘with a head cold or distemper’ had to pay a hefty fine. Both laws have now been repealed.

12. Laws in Ancient Rome were meant to stop people wasting money on frivolous clothes and banquets

Back in the days when Rome had kings, the government sought to protect Roman people from frivolity and excess. They placed limits on how much someone could spend on banquets and items of clothing. However, such laws also became a means of social control. Simultaneously, these strictures (known as sumptuary laws) made certain restrictions based on a person’s social status. Togas, for instance, could only be worn by Roman citizens, and purple by royalty. Other clothes and bits of jewellery could only be worn by high-status citizens. You could learn a lot about someone in Ancient Rome from their appearance.

13. The City of London banned long beards during Henry VIII’s reign

In the 16th century, the Alderman of the City of London passed a law against ‘persons with great beards’. It’s unclear why, but the rest of the Ordinance also warns people to be suspicious of those wearing ‘outrageous breeches’. Presumably, the City of London experienced problems with bearded hooligans in silly trousers during Henry VIII’s reign. It’s no longer enforceable, which is a relief to London’s many hipsters passing through the Square Mile. Unconfirmed legends persist that Henry himself passed a tax on beards during his reign.

14. An existing Act of 1405 means any English place without stocks is a hamlet

On the subject of public humiliation, the stocks are a quirky part of English History. First mentioned in 1227, stocks are wooden devices to restrain people in one place. Persistent naggers, liars, drunkards, and petty-thieves found themselves locked in stocks, where locals pelted them with rotten fruit or dung. Medieval English law demanded that all parishes running their own affairs possessed their own stocks. An Act of 1405 states that any village without stocks is, in fact, a mere hamlet, with fewer rights. Since this law has never been repealed, there are some very large hamlets England!

15. If you committed slander under Norman Law, you had to pay damages and stand in a market place holding your nose telling everyone you were a liar

During the Norman period of English History (1066-1154), kings were hot on name-calling and slander. The first Norman king, after all, spent his whole life being called ‘William the Bastard’ because his parents weren’t married. Under their law, someone found guilty of slander had to pay a huge fine to the victim. Then they had to stand in a market place – the centre of a medieval town – and hold their nose. In this ridiculous pose, the convicted would inform all passers-by of their crime. Public humiliation has long been an effective means of preventing crime.

16. In Western Australia, it’s still illegal to possess more than 50kg of potatoes

Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Photo: The Whole Portion

Watch out, potato-lovers of Western Australia. Since 1946, it’s been illegal to own possess more than 50kg of spuds. Like many absurd other laws on this list, the potato-stricture does have a reasonable origin. In 1946, Australia was recovering from the ravages of World War II. With food scarce, many sought to profit from selling commodities at inflated prices on the black market. Preventing the stockpiling of potatoes, an important food, the Western Australian government hoped to ameliorate the supply crisis. These days, the law preserves the farmers’ monopoly and ensures prices are in their favour.

17. Trial by ordeal was pretty common in the medieval period and beyond

Like trial by combat, trial by ordeal relied upon God helping innocent people, and developed c.500 AD. The accused would have to undertake a painful task to prove their innocence. This could be walking a certain distance through open fire or holding a red-hot piece of metal for a while. Charlemagne, the famous king of the Franks, had the accused and accuser hold up a side of a cross each. The first to lower their side lost. You’d have a much better chance if given bread blessed by a priest. So long as you didn’t choke, you were innocent.

18. In 1336, Edward III of England passed a law to stop people getting fat

Obesity isn’t just a modern phenomenon. In 1336, Edward III of England got so sick of his chubby soldiers he passed laws to make them diet. In the law’s words, obesity made people ‘not able to aid themselves nor their liege Lord in time of need’. The law banned people eating more than 2 courses at mealtimes. It also defined soup as a separate course to prevent people calling it a sauce or condiment. Edward also saw overeating as a wider social evil which made people poorer and more sinful. 3 courses could be enjoyed on Feast Days, however.

19. Swiss law made it illegal for homes not to have access to nuclear bunkers in 1963

During the Cold War, people around the world lived in utter terror of nuclear weapons. After seeing the devastating effect on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people worried US-Soviet relations would cause all-out nuclear warfare. Most nations resorted to making public information leaflets to teach people how to survive an attack. Switzerland went one further. In 1963, the Swiss government passed the first measures to make sure every inhabitant had access to a nuclear shelter. These laws are still enshrined in Articles 45 and 46 of the Swiss Federal Law on Civil Protection. Most buildings erected since 1963 have their own bunkers.

20. In Milan, it’s been illegal not to smile since the 19th century

A strange and obscure city ordinance from Milan demands everyone in the city smiles. Grumpy looks are punishable by fines, but if you’re at a funeral or visiting a hospital you’re exempt. Why you have to smile is hotly debated. The law dates to the Austrian rule of the city, so perhaps it meant to force people to accept foreign governance. That said, dissidents would presumably be harder to spot. Another theory suggests the Austrians thought a happy-looking city would encourage others to visit, settle in, or trade with Milan. Whatever the law’s origin, though, it’s never enforced today.

21. An old French law banned women from wearing trousers unless riding a bike or holding the reigns of a horse until 2013

In 1800, France passed a law against women ‘dress[ing] like a man’. This peculiar law intended to prevent women taking men’s jobs. If women could wear trousers rather than massive, flowing frocks, they could take better paid and more interesting jobs! France modified the law in 1892 and 1900 to reflect changing times. These amendments allowed women to wear trousers when ‘holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse’. These changes preserved women’s modesty. Otherwise, women had to get express permission to ‘dress like a man’. In 2013, after decades of being rightly ignored, France formally repealed it.

22. In 1440, the Bishop of Tréguier banned football, and threatened to excommunicate people caught playing it

Football used to be a far different, vastly more violent, game than modern soccer. Until the 19th century, ‘football’ involved hundreds of players in two teams physically fighting over a pig’s bladder. The game’s only rule said that you won a game by carrying the ball to a predetermined point. Mob violence, widespread destruction, and even death commonly accompanied a game. Kings across Europe banned football on many occasions, but none went so far as the Bishop of Tréguier. In 1440, he banned the ‘dangerous and scandalous’ sport in his diocese. Anyone ignoring the bishop’s law faced excommunication!

23. In 1939, French Lick Springs, Indiana, made it illegal for black cats not to wear bells on Friday 13th

Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Photo: Catster

In 1939, French Lick Springs, Indiana, passed a law requiring all black cats to bells on Friday 13th. A piece of forward-thinking wildlife conservation to help the local birds, you ask? Oh, no – this law intended to protect people! According to a 1942 New York Times article, it was ‘a war measure to alleviate mental strain upon the populace’. Presumably, hearing a cat’s bell, residents could avoid one crossing their path and bringing bad luck. The article also mentions that when the law wasn’t enforced in 1941, ‘a number of minor mishaps occurred’. Spooky.

24. It’s still illegal eat a frog that dies in a frog-jumping contest in California

In Calaveras County, California, the annual frog-jumping contest is a big draw. The contest is won by the croaker that jumps the furthest. An incredible 4, 000 frogs entered in 2007 alone. Frog-jumping competitions are serious business, and subject to a baffling 1957 state law. ‘If such a frog dies or is killed, it… may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose’. Frog-handlers say they wouldn’t eat their frog in the unlikely event of its death in a competition, anyway. There is very little explanation for this law, but it’s still in force, so watch out!

25. Until 1961, the UK defined suicide as a criminal offence

Suicide is a tragedy, and mustn’t be treated flippantly, but old laws against it are a laughing stock. Until 1961, if you attempted suicide in the UK, instead of receiving help, you’d be punished. In 1958, for example, one Lionel Henry Churchill got 6 months in prison after pleading guilty to attempted suicide. Others received hefty fines. Successful suicides lost their possessions to the state, leaving their families both grieving and destitute. However, the claim that attempted suicide was once a capital offence in the UK is an internet myth.

26. In the 16th century, all non-noble Englishmen over the age of 6 had to wear a flat cap on a Sunday

The flat cap – beloved of farmers and, latterly, hipsters – has its origins in a truly bizarre English law. In 1571, Parliament passed a law forcing all non-nobles to wear a wool cap on Sundays and holidays. Lawbreakers faced a 3-farthing fine. Parliament passed the officious legislation to boost the domestic wool industry, which found itself in dire straits in 1571. This law was absurd even in its day, and Parliament repealed it in 1597. However, after 26 years, people had grown rather fond of wearing the woollen hats. Thus, the law gave birth to the flat cap.

27. It’s been legal to marry a dead person since the 19th century in France

Don’t worry, this anywhere near as bad as it sounds. Since the 19th century, marrying a corpse – aka necromany – has been legal in France. This dates back to times when being born out of wedlock was a social taboo. If your husband died in battle before you could get married, and you were pregnant, necromany made your children legitimate. The dead’s consent is established by family members or an existing engagement. The law took its specific, current form in 1959 after a dam burst, killing 423 people. As recently as 2017, a victim of terrorism married his partner posthumously.

28. Until 1974, milking your neighbour’s cow was illegal in Texas

Top 30 Craziest & Stupidest Laws in the World
Photo: Dissolve

‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ox’ is one of the 10 Commandments. In Texas, between 1866 and 1974, milking a neighbour’s cow could also land you in big trouble. ‘Whoever without the consent of the owner shall take up, use or milk any cow, not his own’ faced a $10 fine. This is another once-sensible, now hilarious, law that suffers only in hindsight. The only reason to milk your neighbour’s cow would be to pinch the milk. Although repealed in 1974, Texan law still prohibits illicit cow milking, albeit less specifically. Today, you’ll be charged with theft of property.

29. Leading a cow while drunk has been illegal in the UK since 1872

The Licensing Act 1872 hoped to curtail the drunken misdemeanours plaguing Britain. One part made it illegal to be ‘drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage, horse, [or] cattle’. This now seems rather quaint, but it made a hell of a lot of sense back then. Cattle drovers moved large herds of massive, potentially dangerous cows many miles to market. The last thing anyone needed was a drunken idiot trying to lead their cows through a town. Although cows these days travel long distances by lorry, it’s still illegal to drink and drove.

30. All beached whales in the UK have belonged to the king or queen since 1324

Here’s another strange one from our friend Edward II. In 1324, he passed a law defining whales, sturgeons, dolphins, and porpoises caught within 5km of the shore ‘royal fish’. This one came from pure greed. The ‘royal fish’ fetched lots of money on medieval markets, and the wealthy coveted them for their banquets. A healthy market for whale oil also existed. Edward simply didn’t fancy sharing them with his people. The law has never been repealed, and still applies today. In 2004, a fisherman caught a 10-foot sturgeon near Wales, and had to ask Queen Elizabeth’s permission to sell it.

It’s our personal top list, therefore you’ll find the most stupid laws, at least in our opinion, at the end of the article. How is it possible that some dumb laws like these are still in effect today, remains a mystery. If you are aware of some weird laws still in effect in your country or state feel free to tell us in the comments.

Please remember to like, share this article with your friends and family if you feel interested. Thanks for tuning in with KnowInsiders!

Top 13 Most Weirdest Laws in America Today Top 13 Most Weirdest Laws in America Today

Only in American: The United States is a large, vibrant, and diverse country in which states and even cities have the power to pass their ...

Top 5 The Freakiest Zodiac Signs In Bed According To Astrology Top 5 The Freakiest Zodiac Signs In Bed According To Astrology

Ready to discover which zodiac sign is the freakiest in bed? Well, you’re about to find out with our top 5.

Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives By FBI In The US Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives By FBI In The US

There are very dangerous people out there that can cause harm to the society, and here is the top 10 most wanted fugitives by the ...