The world has seen some ridiculous and outrageous crackdowns throughout history. Governments of various countries have passed some strange bans, which, they claimed, are for the good of the people and for other reasons like security and morality.
It is the government’s duty to ban things that make sense, but there are numerous cases of bans that sound like just satire. The authorities repealed such outrageous laws in some cases, but many other laws keep their place in the statute books even today.
Check out our list of 13 bizarre bans by governments around the world.
1. Australia prohibits the filming of pornography that features adult women but “look underage” as it could promote pedophilia.
In 2000, the Australian government passed a law to reduce the filming of certain aspects of pornography which included women that “looked underage.” Concerned authorities worried that women with small breasts are more likely to look underage, according to the government, and that could encourage pedophilia. Moreover, photos and videos of female orgasms are illegal too.
Australia is the home to some of the most stringent laws in the world pertaining to video games, films, and internet restrictions. There is, however, a poor record of enforcement of these laws.
2. Japan had prohibited dancing in clubs after midnight for over 67 years. The ban finally got lifted in June 2015.
The rule “feuiho” was established in Japan in 1947 after World War II as an anti-prostitution law. At that time, dance clubs were considered as “Adult Entertainment establishments,” and dancing after midnight required a special license.
Since the end of World War II, Japan has grown into a highly developed and thriving country, but this outdated ban remained in place for decades.
A renowned Japanese musician in Ryuichi Sakamoto led a campaign to abolish the ban, and it gained over 150,000 approval signatures. As a result, the government began to create a new law, but it took a whole year to come into effect.(1,2)
3. North Korea prohibits wearing blue jeans or getting piercings done. They enforced this law to fight the influence of Western culture in Korea as their Cold War against the USA continues.
North Korea is famous for its ridiculous bans under their supreme leader Kim Jong-un. These prohibitions serve to promote its own culture, and not let any Western influence seep into their country. However, the nation went into meltdown in 2016 when blue jeans and piercings made it to the list of banned items.
The administration primarily exercised this ban in the North Hamgyong and Yangang provinces as these are the regions where the public has better access to the trends and happenings from around the world.
Kim Jong-un’s rigid regime strictly opposes the US culture, and people found culpable of indulging in “anti-socialist behavior” could be directed to labor camps. Not only that, the regime enlists some teenagers as “inspectors” that go around the streets looking for people that break the new dress code.(1,2)
4. It is illegal to buy chewing gum in Singapore unless it has been prescribed by a medical practitioner.
It is prohibited to import or buy chewing gum in Singapore. The government only allows chewing gums that have therapeutic value according to their trade regulations.
The reasoning behind this ban is that chewing gums were causing considerable maintenance issues in public housings. The maintenance workers found gum stuck inside keyholes, in mailboxes, elevator buttons, etc. It caused an increase in cleaning costs as it frequently damaged cleaning equipment. Also, they found chewing gums stuck on public bus seats.
The citizens openly defied this ban which came out in 2004, and the news coverage about this resistance spread internationally. The initial ban prohibited all types of chewing gums, but later on, they allowed importing gums that help with dental treatment.(source)
5. China banned the 2-D version of the film Avatar due to fear of a possible revolt similar to the one in the movie.
The Chinese government withdrew the 2-D screenings of the worldwide release Avatar. They feared that it could inspire the Chinese people’s imagination to launch a revolt similar to the one depicted in the film. The government also felt that the movie could hinder the local film industry due to its popularity.
The administration banned the 2-D film in 1,628 theaters and instead screened a Chinese biographical film on Confucius. China had banned some more Western movies in the past. Earlier, authorities banned The Dark Knight too on the grounds of “cultural sensitivity.”
However, they never shut down the screenings of the 3-D version of Avatar because of a lack of 3-D halls in the country that time. Banning 2-D screenings was enough to effectively stop the movie from reaching the masses.(1,2)
6. The Turkmenistan former president banned lip-syncing and playing recorded music in 2005 to preserve “true culture.”
The late and former President Niyazov had a track record of issuing eccentric laws. In 2005, he banned lip-syncing and the playing of recorded music on television, at public events, and weddings in order to protect the culture from “negative influences.”
The BBC quoted the then-president as remarking that the law served to “protect true culture, including the musical and singing traditions of the Turkmen people.” Furthermore, he was said to not want to discourage the development of true talent by permitting lip-syncing and non-traditional music.
Not long before imposing this ban, Turkmenistan had also abolished operas and ballet as they deemed them unnecessary.(source)