1. Burundi: Jogging
During a period of ethnic strife in the country that only ended within the last decade, citizens would go jogging together in large groups as a way to get out their energy and use one another as protection from dangerous militias. However, in March 2014, the country’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, banned these jogs, claiming that they are used as cover for people to plan subversive activities — and, in fact, many opposition members have been jailed for taking part in group jogs.
2. Turkmenistan: Lip-Synching
Well, at least at large cultural events and on television programming. In 2005, then-President Saparmurat Niyazov banned lip-synching in order to preserve “true culture.” He had also banned opera and ballet, deeming them “unnecessary.”
3. China: Reincarnation Without Government Permission
A 2007 law in China on the “Management Measures for the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism” made it illegal for Buddhist monks to reincarnate without prior government approval. Or, at least, for religious groups to recognize a Buddha’s new “soul child” following the passing of the previous Buddha without first getting government permission.
4. Romania: Scrabble
In the ’80s, Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu banned the game of Scrabble because it was “subversive” and “evil.” Luckily, the ban is no longer, and the country now has a Scrabble Federation and hosts tournaments for players.
5. United States: Kinder Surprise candy eggs
Kinder Surprises are hugely popular throughout many parts of the world, but these chocolate eggs with a toy in the middle are banned in the United States. The reason? Worries about the choking hazard that could be posed by a non-food product (or “non-nutritive component”) entirely encased in food. People have even been detained for trying to return to the U.S. from Canada with these treats in their possession.
7. Australia: Pornography Featuring Women With “Small” Breasts
Apparently, some Australian politicians thought that pornography featuring women with breasts considered “small” would encourage pedophilia. The Australian Classification Board started refusing classification of these materials as a way of discouraging them.
8. Singapore: Chewing Gum
Well, not exactly. Singapore bans the import or sale of gum, which makes it essentially impossible for locals to get any. There is an exception for people who have a medical prescription for gum. The original ban came in 1992, when someone used chewed gum to bring the public transportation system to a halt. Somehow.
9. The Philippines: Claire Danes
OK, not the entirety of the Philippines, but Claire Danes did become persona non grata in the capital city of Manila in the late ’90s. After giving interviews in which she described conditions in the city, where she was filming a movie, in less-than-favorable terms, the city council instituted a ban on all movies starring Danes.
10. Denmark: Ovaltine and Marmite
These are two of the most popular products disallowed by a Danish law that requires government approval for any foods fortified with vitamins or minerals. The law took effect in 2004, causing problems for large manufacturers like Kellogg’s as well as small shop owners who could not afford the cost of getting the government’s seal of approval for their products. The Danes believe that a balanced diet supplies all the vitamins and minerals one could need, and that too much of these things can cause harm.
11. India: Alcohol Advertisements
The late 1990s saw the Indian government ban advertisements for alcoholic beverages. Many companies have tried to get around the ban by promoting surrogate products using the brand name of their alcohol, although even some of those ads have come under fire from the government in the past.
12. France: Red Bull
Not anymore, thankfully. But until 2008, the energy drink was banned in the country because of concerns over the chemical taurine used in the drink’s recipe. The company had been selling a slightly altered version of the drink without taurine previously.
13. China: Time Travel
Well, movies and shows about time travel. Actual time travel isn’t possible yet, unless China knows something the rest of us don’t. Anyway, apparently Chinese authorities felt that representations of time travel resulted in frivolous depictions of “serious history,” so they decided to ban it.
14. South Africa: Photos of the President’s House
Last year, the South African government announced that it was banning the taking and publicizing of images of the home of President Jacob Zuma, even amongst established media outlets. Naturally, plenty of newspapers defied the ban and published pictures of the home anyway.
16. Monaco: Gambling at the Casino, if You Are a Citizen of Monaco
That’s right — despite being a symbol of Monaco to many around the world, the Monte Carlo Casino does not actually allow citizens of Monaco to enter and gamble there. This supposedly dates back to the casino’s establishment in the 1860s, when Prince Charles III was afraid that citizens of the principality would lose all their money there. It was perfectly fine for foreigners to do so, of course.
17. United Kingdom: Dying in the Houses of Parliament
It’s not sure how they would prosecute you for breaking this law, but: dying in the Houses of Parliament is technically not allowed because anyone who dies inside is entitled to a state funeral. And clearly, the government doesn’t want to deal with many state funerals.
19. The Philippines: Singing “My Way,” by Frank Sinatra
OK, so this is technically a de facto ban and not actually legislated. But many karaoke bars have banned the song, and many patrons would refuse to sing it even if they did carry it. Why? The song has led to at least six murders, stemming from arguments over, some believe, the “arrogant” tone of the tune. The phenomenon has even been dubbed the “My Way Killings.”
20. Thailand: The Movie Anna and the King
This 1999 film starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat (as well as a young Tom Felton, aka Draco Malfoy) ran afoul of Thai film censors, who argued that the movie was insulting to the royal family and distorted the country’s history. According to a 1930 law, any film that disrespects the Thai monarchy will face a ban, and filmmakers can even receive jail time.
21. South Korea: Online Video Games After Midnight
A 2011 law, known as the “shutdown” law, blocked children under the age of 16 from playing video games online between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Recently, authorities have decided to show leniency, and will lift the ban in response to a parental request. The ban was meant to help curb a gaming addiction amongst members of the South Korean public.
22. Japan: Dancing in Clubs
It may seem strange that in a country where cities like Tokyo are renowned for their nightlife, dancing in clubs is illegal, but it’s true. A law passed in 1948 to protect “public morals” has meant that, technically, dancing in public venues is only permissible at specially licensed establishments, and only until midnight. Some lawmakers are currently working to repeal the law in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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