John McCullagh November 6, 2007
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A little-known law which prohibits people dying while in the Houses of Parliament has been voted the UK‘s most ludicrous piece of legislation.  The punishment for offenders was not included in the statute books.

Another law which states it is treason to use a postage stamp upside down was voted second. 74% of Norn Iron Katoliks said they never stuck the Queen’s head only upside down.

The most absurd international law was judged to be in the US state of Ohio where it is illegal to get fish drunk.  The Irish of course would never waste good alcohol in this way.

Then came a law stating that only a clerk in a tropical fish store has permission to be topless in public in Liverpool.  She said that that was OK with her. Some male customers’ eyes, she said, were larger than the goldfishes’ in their bowls.

Other lesser-known laws making the top 10 included one banning eating mince pies on Christmas Day and another stating it is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour.

Almost half of those asked confessed to breaking the mince pie law which was brought in by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th Century.  It is not known whether the other 49% don’t like mince pies or were merely keeping to the letter of the law!

The Law Society last year revealed other bizarre UK laws still in existence on the statute book included:

a ban on firing a cannon close to a dwelling house (Met Police Act 1839);

banning of driving cattle through London‘s streets (Metropolitan Streets Act 1867)

ban on the use of any slide upon ice or snow (Town Police Clauses Act 1847). 98% of children under 16 are believed guilty of breaking that particular law.

If someone knocks on your door in Scotland and requires the use of your toilet, you are required to let them enter.

 In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet (but where to find a helmeted policeman when you really need one?).

"Your honour, I was pregnant at the time.  And I really needed a p**s!"

"Not guilty!  And would someone please show the defendent to the toilets quickly?"

The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen.

(isn’t the tail of the Queen the King’s property anyway?)

It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing.   Have you got that?

It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour.

It is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls of York, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

Other bizarre foreign laws voted by those polled included:

In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation. Interestingly, the ratio of women to men in Indonesia (live ones complete with heads anyway) is 5:1. 

A male doctor in Bahrain can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror. Gynaecologists there carry their own mirrors at all times.

In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm – which could be a problem if he’s at home and is caught short!

It is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle in Alabama. Not wise, either!

In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed.   They could also, I imagine, end up being strung up some tree!

Women in Vermont must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.   What’s strange about that law, I wonder?  Sounds right to me!

In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except during funerals or hospital visits.   Then presumably it becomes a crime to smile.

In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon. Presumably the classic novel Animal Farm is prohibited from sale too.

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