Travelling should be an exciting and enriching experience filled with new people, new perspectives and new cultures. However, new cultures can also pose their problems. What is seen as perfectly acceptable or as a minor misdemeanour at home, could land you jail time elsewhere?
Laws vary wildly across the world, often depending on a country’s religion, government or history (or a combination of all three). Before you travel to your next destination, take a look at the list below. Here you’ll find five activities that can get you in jail while travelling:
“Mooning” in Australia
Showing your bare bottom in the Australia state of Victoria is illegal, and even first-time offenders could face two months in prison if caught and arrested. Habitual offenders face even longer six-month terms. The legislation over “mooning” was made stricter in 2016 as the state made an effort to update its laws surrounding sexual offences.
Badmouthing the Royal Family in Thailand
While people from other cultures wouldn’t think twice about criticising their ruling classes, be very careful of what you say in Thailand. The royal family in Thailand are revered. So much so that the lese-majeste law forbids anyone to insult or badmouth them in person, in print or on social media. Anyone who “defames, insults or threatens” a member of the royal family can be punished with a jail sentence between three and 15 years. The law has been imposed more strictly since 2014 when the Thai military took power following a coup.
Showing a Buddha Tattoo in Sri Lanka
Buddha tattoos fall into a collection of Sri Lankan laws prohibiting any insult to the national religion of Buddhism. It’s a good idea to cover up a Buddha tattoo if you have one, particularly when travelling in to and out of major transport hubs. Other related illegal acts include posing for a photograph with your back to a statue of Buddha and kissing a Buddha statue, behaviour that earnt three French tourists prison time back in 2013.
Public Displays of Affection in UAE
The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country and one that operates by a rigorous moral code. Tourists have occasionally been arrested for kissing in public. It’s also worth noting that the laws go beyond public displays of affection – what happens in private can be punishable too. All sex outside marriage is illegal, and all homosexual sex is illegal, both for residents and tourists. It’s also against the law to live with or share a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex if you aren’t married or related.
Spraying Graffiti in Singapore
Singapore is notoriously big on law and order on its streets. It’s illegal to jaywalk, to chew gum, to spit in the street and to feed pigeons. If you’re caught committing one of these crimes you could face a hefty fine. It’s not surprising, then, that spraying graffiti in Singapore is illegal – most countries have legislation against it. What is surprising, however, is the severity of the punishments handed out. The country’s Vandalism Act of 1966 states that graffiti sprayers should be caned, fined and jailed. Oliver Fricker, a Swiss citizen, was sentenced to five months in jail and three strokes of the cane for spray painting two train cars back in 2010.
While all surprising, this list doesn’t include any outdated laws no longer enforced. These are current laws that apply to both residents and visitors to these countries. Travelling abroad can be a pleasant experience. Just be careful to note cultural and legal differences to stay on the right side of the law and enjoy your time away.
Author: Lucy Taylor is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.