Going on holiday or on a backpacking adventure is a lot of fun; it's why so many people do it. But something that could ruin that fun big time would be, er, getting arrested in a foreign country, especially if you weren't even aware you were breaking the law.
So to help you avoid any future unfair stints in foreign prisons, we thought we'd round up some of the tiny, seemingly insignificant things that could actually get you arrested in certain destinations abroad.
1. Crossing the road
In America, 'jaywalking' - or the act of crossing the road when the traffic lights don't say you can - is a criminal offence. Granted, it's seen as a low level offence which is usually only dealt with by issuing a fine, but it's illegal all the same. Enforcement varies among states in America, but in Massachusetts for example, people found to be jaywalking will be fined $1 for their first, second and third offences in any given year, and $2 for their fourth and any subsequent offences within the year.
2. Having sex
In Abu Dhabi and various other UAE countries including Dubai, having sex outside of marriage is seen as a highly punishable offence. An unnamed British woman visiting Dubai earlier this year claimed she had been gang-raped in the country, but to her shock, when she reported the incident to police in the country they ended up arresting her and not the men accused of the rape. Initially confiscating the young woman's passport, police told her she had committed an offence by having sex outside of marriage. The charges in this case were dropped shortly after, but a couple in Abu Dhabi experienced something similar. Ukranian-born Iryna Nohai discovered she was pregnant with her boyfriend Emlyn Culverwell's baby while the pair were holidaying in the country, and they were both arrested on charges of having had sex before marriage.
Travel advice for such UAE countries states "it's against the law to live together, or to share the same hotel room, with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren't married or closely related", and anyone found guilty of doing so runs the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine, and deportation.
3. Ordering an alcoholic drink
Well, it's illegal to buy outside of certain hours in Thailand. Because of the country's 'blue laws' which restrict certain activities in order to observe times of rest, it's technically illegal to purchase alcohol from a bar, restaurant or anywhere else outside of lunch (11am-2pm) and dinner (after 5pm). Looks like you can't just have those famous buckets of booze any time you please, then. Blogger and long time resident of Thailand Richard Barrow also says you can't legally buy alcohol on Buddha Day or on Election Day. So now you know.
You're meant to be happy when you go on holiday, right? And in Milan, Italy, it seems like they're pretty keen to enforce that. According to an old law which has never been overturned, it's genuinely illegal not to smile, and it's punishable by a fine. Jeez, talk about organised fun. The only people who are exempt from the rule that's literally governed by the fun police are people in hospitals and those attending funerals. Fair enough.
5. Wearing a bikini when you're not on the beach
We Brits are so accustomed to cold weather that we just. cannot. deal with sunnier climes. It's for that reason we like to wear next-to-nothing when we go abroad, but various Spanish regions are clamping down on holidaymakers baring (nearly) all. In 2011, Barcelona outlawed tourists wandering the streets in bikinis or other swimwear, threatening them with fines if they did, and in 2014 Mallorca brought in a similar rule. If you're caught wearing your swimming costume on the street there, you could be liable to pay up to £500 in fines. That's some dent in your duty free budget.
If you're off to Australia, you're going to have to wash your mouth out, because there are laws against offensive language in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales - all of which are very popular tourist destinations. Swearing is what's called a 'summary offence' in these places, meaning that if you're arrested and charged, your case could be heard by a magistrate or a judge, not a jury. And they don't take it lightly, either: in Queensland and Victoria, being found guilty of offensive language could land you in prison for up to six months. F**king hell.
7. Flushing the toilet at night
No matter how desperate you are, you're going to have to avoid a trip to the toilet come nightfall as best you can if you're visiting Switzerland. Why? It's apparently against the law to flush the chain after 10pm in the country, because they deem it noise pollution. I mean, yeah, but isn't that a better kind of pollution than leaving your bodily excretions to stew in the loo all night? Just saying.
8. Connecting to wifi
In Singapore, it's illegal to connect to another person's wifi. The country's Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act states that using someone else's Wi-Fi network is seen as hacking, and anyone caught doing it could be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or worse - they could face up to three years in jail. Instagram can wait in that case.
9. Singing karaoke at night
You might harbour dreams of visiting Hawaii and spending your nights banging out some of your best tunes after one too many piña coladas. But, sorry to burst your bubble, in Honolulu you're not allowed to sing loudly after sunset. Somehow I just don't think Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' has quite the same impact when whispered.
10. Weeing in the sea
Hands up, who's done it? Well you'd better hope you hadn't peed in the sea in Portugal, because the country's got a strict ban on it. I'm not entirely sure how they enforce that one, mind you.
11. Wearing high heels
In certain places in Greece, specifically ancient monuments, wearing high heels is a definite no-no. You might want to look glam in all your tourist pics, but the country is concerned about the damage heels could do to the stone, and they've banned them.
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