As I was grading research papers for my Geography class, I noticed a recurring theme: other countries have some strange laws (strange to Americans, that is). And so, for your reading pleasure, I present to you unique laws from around the world, courtesy of my ninth grade Geography class and researched for authenticity by me.

France

You can’t name a pig Napoleon. Technically this isn’t true. The law in question seems to state that it is illegal to insult the Head of State. As my French is non-existent, I’ve had to rely on that most inaccurate of sources, Wikipedia, as well as the forum section of Snopes. According to some sources, the law is not regularly enforced, with recent French presidents not using it at all. So, feel free to name your pig Napoleon, so long as he hasn’t risen from the dead and reclaimed the defunct throne of France.

My name is Napoleon. I've just declared myself Emperor and declared war on all of Europe. See what happens when you let standards slip?
My name is Napoleon.
I’ve just declared myself Emperor.
I’ve also declared war on all of Europe.
See what happens when you let standards slip?

You can’t take pictures of police (or police vehicles). This law may or may not be accurate. Privacy laws in France are in flux; what is considered public and what is considered private is unclear. From what I have been able to gather, anyone included in a photograph has the right to give or deny permission for the photograph to be taken – this includes anyone in the frame, not just those at the focus. Generally, the French police force has frowned upon photographs including police personnel; therefore, if anyone seeks to press charges, the outcome will ultimately depend on the particular judge holding court.

Just posting this picture probably put me on some sort of watch list…

Germany

A pillow can be considered an passive weapon. I could not find any verification for this law, only other lists of “stupid laws” without any sources. That said, I don’t see how the law would make sense: a passive weapon is one used to defend oneself from another – usually more violent – weapon. Pillows can’t really protect you from anything except other pillows and bogeymen.

Soon to be reclassified as an assault weapon and banned in 16 countries.
Soon to be reclassified as an assault weapon banned in 16 countries.

It’s illegal to tune a piano at midnight. Again, I could not find verification for this law. However, this law makes sense for two reasons. First, tuning a piano at midnight would most likely break several noise ordinances. Second, it keeps piano tuners out of your house at midnight. Need I say more?

Piano tuners are like gremlins: let them tune after midnight and they become homicidal...
Piano tuners are like gremlins: let them tune after midnight and they become homicidal…

Egypt and Australia

It’s illegal not to vote.

In Australia, it would be more accurate to say that it is illegal to not cast a ballot. Australians who are eligible to vote must go to a voting station, receive a ballot, and then cast it. Failure to do so may result in fines up to $50 (Australian) plus court costs. However, given the secrecy of the Australian Ballot, there is no sure way to guarantee that the voter actually voted for someone.

In Egypt, the law is generally unenforced, and members of the military and police force cannot vote.

Vote…or else!

Greece

It’s illegal to wear stilettos. This law is upheld only in certain parts of Greece, namely a key archaeological and historic sites. In addition, the law applies to all forms of high heels, not just stilettos. The reason for the ban? The pressure exerted downwards by the wearer can cause damage to the “skin” of the ancient Greek masonry. When all the tourists to Greece are taken into account, this law makes pretty good sense.

guns...knives...explosives...STILETTOS!! CODE RED! CODE RED!
guns…knives…explosives…STILETTOS!!
CODE RED! CODE RED!

Thailand

You must wear underwear. Not just a good idea, it’s the law! This law appears to be related to Thailand’s main religion, Buddhism. Buddhists hold that the lower body is an area of loathsomeness or revulsion. Therefore, it is necessary to cover one’s nether regions to avoid contaminating holy sites and other people (in more ways than one!).

Don't step on the money, either - it hold the sacred image of their emperor.
Don’t step on the money, either – it holds the sacred image of the Thai emperor.
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