WORK-LIFE BALANCE / AUG. 31, 2015
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12 Everyday Activities That Are Actually Illegal Around the World

Everybody knows that murdering, kidnapping and bank robbing are all major crimes around the world, but did you know that you could be breaking the law by doing the simplest of things like frowning, hanging out your washing, and even changing a light bulb? While we take these everyday activities for granted, you could get into trouble with the law in certain places for, well, doing what you thought was perfectly legal.

So, let’s see how often you’ve been on the wrong side of the law, you lawbreaker, you!

See Also: 10 Laws You’ve Broken Without Even Realising It

1. Changing Light Bulbs - Victoria, Australia

What did you do the last time one of your light bulbs wore out? Changed it? Then you must not live in Victoria, Australia, where you’re not allowed to change a light bulb unless you’re a qualified electrician.

It doesn’t seem to be the most thought-through law: if you’re turning on a light, it’s probably after working hours. Do Australian electricians work on shifts manning a 24-hour helpline? Does calling an electrician out actually cost less than the $10 fine you get for each light bulb you change yourself? And just how exactly do they know you’ve changed it yourself?

Then again, if it is a law that’s taken seriously and you happen to be an out-of-work electrician, going there and starting a cheap light bulb-changing service could be an idea for you.

2. Feeling Blue - Milan, Italy

Smile! I know it’s the last thing you feel like doing but here are two very good reasons why you really should: it’s been scientifically proven that forcing yourself to smile can help you feel better, and if you’re heading to Milan you could get yourself a $100 fine for that long face. That’s sure to cheer you up.

They aren’t completely unreasonable, however. If you can prove that you’re visiting someone in hospital or going to a funeral, then they will be a little understanding and waive the fine.

3. Passing Wind After 6pm - Florida, United States

This one is as strange as it is specific. The law doesn’t say “Never pass wind between 6pm and 9pm” or even “Don’t pass wind on weekends.” No, it’s actually “Don’t pass wind after 6pm on a Thursday.”

Perhaps there was a time when everyone had chili for dinner on Wednesdays and then brought their leftovers to work for lunch on Thursday, and the ‘windy’ rush hour on Thursday evenings got so bad they were forced to pass (get it?) a law. Move chili night to Friday, though, and you should be fine.

4. Donkeys Napping in the Bath After 7pm - Oklahoma, United States

If you’re planning to move to Oklahoma, you might want to change your pet donkey’s night time habits. No more evening bath and nice nap in the bubbles; he’ll have to start having it earlier so he’s out of the tub by 7pm. He doesn’t need to go back outside but make sure he’s out of the bath so you don’t get fined for it. I never let my donkey in the bathtub; I didn’t know I was doing it wrong.

5. Putting on Weight - Japan

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Everyone between the ages of 45 and 74 has their waistline measured each year in Japan and, men with bigger waistlines than 33.5 inches and women bigger than 35.5, could get sent off to counseling and support sessions.

While citizens themselves don’t get fined, governments and companies do if their employees are found to be overweight, and this is all thanks to the Metabo law that was enacted in 2008 to ensure that Japan keeps its low obesity levels.

6. Vexing People - Philippines

That’s right, “vex.” If you enjoy going around interfering in other peoples’ business, you might want to be careful when visiting the Philippines, as anyone who feels "unjustly vexed" has every right to complain and get you fined for it.

The definition of vex is to "make (someone) feel annoyed, frustrated, or worried, especially with trivial matters." The civil code says that everyone’s dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind should be respected by not:

  • Interfering with peoples’ residential privacy
  • Interfering with peoples’ private life or family relations
  • Causing another to be alienated from friends
  • Vexing or humiliating someone for their religious beliefs, station or other personal condition

7. Throwing Confetti - Alabama, United States

If you’ve been invited to a wedding in Mobile, Alabama, there’s one thing you should leave at home: your confetti stash. If you do take it, you’ll find that you’re the only one who has because it’s illegal for people there to possess it, sell it, give it away, handle it, or do anything else their hearts desire with it. This is an example of health and safety gone mad, as the law reasons that it’s dangerous for your health if you inhale it.

8. Chewing Gum - Singapore

While the laws banning any importing of chewing gum in Singapore were relaxed in 2004, you still shouldn’t take more than two packs with you and you should still be careful of how you dispose of it if you don’t want to get a $1,000 fine.

The original ban was enacted after people continuously disposed of it inappropriately, especially on the seats of trains and buses. The final straw was when vandals who stuck some on the door sensors of the new $5 billion transportation system which stopped doors from opening.

9. Single Ladies Skydiving on Sunday Afternoons - Florida, United States

Sorry, single ladies, but there’s no skydiving for you on Sunday afternoons in Florida. You can do it as much as you like during the week, but once it gets to Sunday afternoon, the skies are strictly for your married counterparts. There doesn’t really seem to be another law that says married women can only skydive on Sunday afternoons, but let’s pretend there is. It’s more fun.

10. Singing Loudly After Sunset - Honolulu, Hawaii

If you’re a fan of karaoke, you might want to make sure you get yourself to the nearest karaoke bar early if you’re visiting Honolulu. If you need to get drunk before you start singing, consider setting an alarm on your phone to warn you that it’s sunset – you might be too drunk to remember what it’s for or how to turn it off, but at least trying to work out how to stop it will distract you from singing and keep you out of trouble.

11. Publicly Displaying Affection - United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is touchy about touching; you can hold hands if you’re married, but anything more than that should be saved for behind closed doors. Even kissing could get you fined, deported, and/or imprisoned. You should also be wary of sharing a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex and even be careful of what you do on meeting someone for the first time.

12. Hanging Out Men and Women's Underwear to Dry Together - Minnesota, United States

We all know how to do laundry: put everything in the machine together, wash it, take it out, and hang it all on the line together. Not so much in Minnesota, however, where you’ll want to separate the male and female underwear so you don’t get fined for hanging it out on the same line.

See Also: Avoid These 20 English Words When in Other Countries

There you have it: 12 things you probably do every day and never realized could get you thrown into prison if you went on holiday and did them in the wrong place. If you haven’t already, we strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with the local laws of the country you’re traveling to – especially now that you have a pretty good idea of just how crazy some of their laws might be.

Have you broken any of these crazy laws? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section below!

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