When you first arrive to a new country, it’s important to adapt to new laws.
Usually when it’s inside the European Union it’s no big deal, although when I first came to Britain at the age of 16 our teachers kept imploring us for weeks not to play any drinking games whilst on the island, because they had a legal drinking age over there.
Funny laws exist all over the world. In Italy for example, if you are the Prime Minister you cannot be prosecuted for any crime, even if it has been proved that you bribed lawyers, judges, politicians, inspectors, policemen, carabinieri, journalists, secret services agents and priests.
In France, it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon (nothing is said about calling him Sarkozy though). In Indonesia masturbation is punished with decapitation.
As an international student, I feel the duty of helping other international students, but also young English people, to find out about a few laws that are quite hidden from everyday life and shared moral values, but not less important:
1) It is illegal to die in the House of Parliament. This is for the journalism students, as their forthcoming trip to London is approaching… touch wood everyone. Also, for whoever is considering a career as MP, watch out for your heart condition. A stroke while debating a law might put you in jail for attempted death.
2) It is illegal to gamble in a library, according to the Library Offences Act of 1898. Yes guys, that applies in the IC as well.
3) Trespassing is illegal, except by huers and baulkers, according to an act dated 1603. “Huers and baulkers” were guys who would stand on the cliffs and shout to fishing boats, directing them. What exactly gave them the right of trespassing is unknown, but if you decide to stalk your ex girlfriend make sure you do it near a fishmonger’s.
4) It is illegal to hang washing across the street. Beating or shaking carpets or mats is also illegal. Doorman can be shaken, but not after 8am.
5) It is illegal to sing profane or obscene songs. This is a very very useful one: next time your housemate plays Girls Aloud, you are allowed to call the police under the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847
6) It is illegal to drive a cow while drunk. And that’s a pity because it could have been a cheap alternative to taxis.
7) It is legal to shoot a Scotsman inside the walls of York with a crossbow upon seeing one, except for on Sundays. However, any Scotsman caught drunk or with a weapon can still be shot on a Sunday, except with a bow and arrow. This is also a very useful one, for that guy from Glasgow you just can’t stand. Similarly, in Chester it is legal to shoot a Welsh person with a crossbow, as long as it is within the city walls and is done after midnight. And in Chester, Welsh people aren’t allowed to enter the city grounds before sunrise and from staying after sunset.
8) It is legal for a pregnant woman to pee wherever she wants. Also, the law specifies, in a policeman’s helmet, if she ask. Now, if you are a pregnant, no-global, who hates the police and is planning to go to the next protest in London, this is just ace.
9) Eating mince pies on Christmas day is illegal. This needs no comment.
10) Suicide is a capital crime. But nothing is said about attempted suicide. I would assume it is NOT a capital crime: it would be too easy
11) It is illegal to shave, mow your lawn or work on a Sunday. Ooops. I should go.
For in-depth examinations of the subject matter, http://www.yousaytoo.com/nesher/strange-and-funny-laws-in-uk/28672
By Marta Musso
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