I have anecdotally heard of some really strange laws, some of them turned out to be urban legends, others were true. Fact is though, that legislators throughout the world have found it necessary to come up with laws that range from the bizarre to the ridiculous, but at the very least are weird.
I'm sure that if you actually went to a law library and started flicking through the endless pages you would come across some long forgotten gems. Here is a collection of some of the weird legislations from around the world that I have come across; makes you really wonder what politicians are up to. I have tried to focus on laws where I have been able to provide links to verify they exist. This is of course a bit more difficult for non English speaking countries, which is why I have listed the below.
One of the strangest "offenses" I have come across in a very long time has to be from Canada. According to the Criminal Code of Canada section 163. Corrupting morals, you would be committing an offence if you make, print publish, distribute or sell a crime comic. Yes, you read that correctly, a crime comic.
Now Canadian legislators were kind enough to clarify what a "crime comic" is and they came up with following definition:
“crime comic” means a magazine, periodical or book that exclusively or substantially comprises matter depicting pictorially
(a) the commission of crimes, real or fictitious; or
(b) events connected with the commission of crimes, real or fictitious, whether occurring before or after the commission of the crime.
This makes me wonder, do Canadians have Spiderman? Has The Joker been erased from Batman comics? What about all the villains in X-Men? What on earth are super heroes meant to do in Canada?
It makes you wonder how politicians ever thought something like this could be enforceable, let alone be of any good to society.
In any given country the constitution frames the highest and most sacred law that defines many things from how a government is formed, to what rights people have. One of the most common rights, or freedoms, in the western world is the freedom to choose and exercise ones religion. Off the top of my head I am not able to think of a western country that does not specifically refer to freedom of religion as a basic right of its people.
The odd thing with the Constitution of Ireland is that it seems to assign rights to god rather than the people of Ireland, when it comes to religion. This always brings up very interesting conversations, and most people think that I am making things up or wrongly reading or understanding the law. To avoid any confusion, here is the quote from Article 44:
"The State acknowledges the homage of public worship due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion."
Whether or not this is the way it was intended is up for debate, but to me this sounds like the state acknowledges that the public/the state shall worship Almighty God, and that the public/the state shall hold his name in admiration. At the very least it is a very dubious and weird way to word legislation for freedom of religion.
If you live in the Sunshine State then you should definitely be aware of the law about lewd and lascivious behaviour. This law is part of the Florida Statutes' chapter on adultery and cohabitation (chaper 798). This of course leads us to the question of how exactly lewd and lascivious behaviour is defined, so let's take a look:
"If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree"
Yes, that's right, a Second Degree Misdemeanor! And what is the punishment for such a violation? A fine of five hundred dollars, as it is deemed a non-criminal violation. I'm sure this has to be another one of those laws that are pointless, out of date and never enforced; a true mockery of the legislature.
Do you know how to pronounce "Arkansas"? If not, then there is a law to help you out. Yes, as ridiculous as it may sound, Arkansas State legislators found that it was an adequate and important use of time and resources to come up with code 1-4-105. Pronunciation of state name. Unfortunately we cannot ask them why they saw it fit to write the pronunciation of the state name into law, as it was written in 1881.
However, the legislation does somewhat hint at their thinking as it states that "confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state". I have no idea how and why exactly the issue of pronunciation became something that politicians saw themselves fit and empowered to enforce by law.
Should you ever find yourself threatened by this law, then it would be helpful to be armed with the correct way of pronunciation, which phonetically would look like this: Ark-en-saw.
Finally, if you happen to be in Wyoming or planning a visit there, you should definitely make sure to close gates behind you. Yes, there is actually a law in Wyoming about leaving gates open. The Equality State's Statutes title 6, chapter 9 has a law that prohibits the grievous violation of leaving a gate open, the exact wording is:
"A person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) if he opens and neglects to close a gate or replace bars in a fence which crosses a private road or a river, stream or ditch."
So unless you have $750 to spare you better abide by what politicians have deemed good use of their time to ensure the wellbeing of people.