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10 weird laws from around the world

9:13 PM, Jan 6, 2013   |    comments
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South Carolina

Illegal: Pinball for minors

If Footloose ever needs a sequel, South Carolina is ready with the plotline. The state allows teenagers to dance (we think), but no one under 18 better shimmy anywhere near a pinball machine. In a place where an old-timey arcade game like pinball is illegal for minors, what's next? Malts? Going steady?

Rome

Illegal: Eating and drinking near landmarks

It's like that time when you were five and spilled ice cream on the rug in the living room, and your mother yelled, "This is why we can't have nice things!" Except substitute Rome for your mom, and imagine the Pantheon instead of a rug. Fed up with drippy picnickers, Rome is now enforcing a municipal ordinance outlawing eating and drinking in areas of "particular historic, artistic, architectonic and cultural value." That Nutella gelato may be amazing, but unless you think it's worth $650, steer clear of landmarks (including the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum) until you're between cones.

Dubai

Illegal: Sharing a hotel room outside of marriage

Significant other. Friend with benefits. These relationship qualifiers are your one-way ticket to separate rooms in Dubai. It's against the law in the United Arab Emirates to share a hotel room with (or live with, for that matter) someone of the opposite sex unless you're married or closely related. On the upside, you won't have to fight over that single luggage stand in the room.

Greece

Illegal: Stiletto heels

Fact: No woman in heels wants to be compared to an elephant. So it's an uncomfortable truth that the pressure a stiletto heel exerts on the ground is much greater than that of a walking elephant. For that reason, Greece is taking a hard line on high heels, with a policy that prohibits shoes that "wound the monuments." The new guidelines will help preserve ancient sites like Athens' Odeon of Herod Atticus for new generations of sensible-shoe wearers.

Netherlands

Illegal: Soft drugs

Because complicated rules and being high go so well together, the Netherlands has come up with an increasingly complex set of policies around smoking "soft" drugs like marijuana and hash. This year, the country introduced a law banning tourists from buying marijuana. Amsterdam, however, is having none of it. The mayor recently announced that Amsterdam will continue to welcome tourists at the city's more than 200 coffee shops, where soft drugs are sold and smoked.

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Illegal: Spitting in public

Daytona Beach wants you to stroll down its sidewalks confident that no stranger's projectile mucous is careening your way. The city's code of ordinance decrees that it does not allow "any person to expectorate upon the streets or sidewalks or in public buildings or places within city limits." So walk tall, secure in the knowledge that you're not going to slip in someone else's spit.

Thailand

Illegal: Stepping on currency

See a penny, pick it up, right? In Thailand, the second verse of the rhyme would go, "And whatever you do, don't step on it. Seriously." Thailand reveres its king–photographs of the monarch are always hung high in a room as a mark of honor and respect, and it's illegal to criticize the king. Since his likeness is on all currency, stepping on money is akin to stepping on the king's face. So, clearly: not cool.

Venice

Illegal: Feeding the pigeons

You know what would be great? If Venice could outlaw pigeons. Since it can't do that, the city has instead cracked down on those who feed the birds. The new law ends a long tradition of pigeons landing on tourists who are willing to exchange some avian bacteria for a photograph or two.

Canada

Illegal: Penny overuse

Poor Canadian piggy banks, straining under the weight of all those unusable pennies. Across the provinces, it's illegal to use more than 25 pennies in a transaction–something to remember next time you're trying to use up all your Canadian currency at the end of a vacation. Need more proof that the penny is Canada's most unloved tender? The government announced earlier this year that it would soon begin phasing out the one-cent coin.

Singapore

Illegal: Chewing gum

Unless you're blowing those bubbles under a doctor's orders, you're in violation of Singapore's strict ban on chewing gum. If you're thinking that you'll just sneak some in to chew in the privacy of your hotel room, know that smuggling gum into the country is a serious offense as well. We can only imagine that this granddaddy of weird laws has inspired a thriving industry of mint manufacturers.

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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