Halloween provides a good opportunity to look at some bizarre laws from around the world, ranging from the nonsensical to the scary and intrusive.
- In Finland, for example, legislation dictates that taxi drivers must pay a fee in order to play music in their cars while transporting customers. This fee amounts to around $40 per year, but in order to cut costs, many taxi drivers will simply turn the music off whenever a customer enters the vehicle.
- In Sweden, pubs and bars must have a special ‘dance permit’ in order to allow dancing on their premises. This effectively means that a bar’s patrons spontaneously dancing could get the owners into trouble if they do not have the extra licence. Apparently, this fun-hating piece of legislation was introduced in the 1970’s as an attempt to prevent public disorder.
- Bans on whaling can be found in many places around the world and can hardly be considered overly strange, except perhaps when considering the ban on whaling in the state of Oklahoma, which is a landlocked state. This law seems rather pointless, given how extremely unlikely it would be to find a whale so far inland, although some lawmakers aren’t taking any chances!
- In 2007, the Chinese government made a bizarre move to introduce regulations around reincarnation. As a result of this, Buddhist monks are banned from reincarnating without government approval. This unusual legislation is aimed at diminishing the influence of the Dalai Lama and allowing the government to choose his successor, as well as undermining the influence of Buddhism in Tibet.
- Bans on civilians wearing camouflage clothing may take many by surprise, but this is indeed the case in several countries including Barbados, Jamaica, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. Some of the reasons given include fears of rebellion and confusion with military personnel on patrol.
- Paranoia around keeping the population in check can also be seen in countries like Hungary, where citizens must carry an ID card at all times and police can stop anyone to conduct random ID checks. A minimum level of suspicion is not determined by law.
- Russia’s ban on ‘gay propaganda’ is another example of sinister and absurd legislation, with positive depictions of non-traditional relationships deemed to be illegal. The government claims that this is primarily to do with child protection, despite the obvious infringement on the rights of LGBTQ+ people by limiting their freedom of expression, an infringement which is condemned by human rights organizations worldwide. It also places LGBTQ+ people under increased scrutiny from the government, fostering a culture of fear and repression.
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