Die and you're under arrest!
Britains most stupid laws
John Walsh, from the Independant Online, Nov. 2007

There are many strange and antiquated laws still in existence around the world but the British public has voted a law that prohibits[1] dying in parliament as the country's most absurd one. Queen Elizabeth the second's speech in the parliament on Tuesday 6th of November may have been routine but at least nobody got bored to death[2]. That would have been against the law. Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain. And though the lords were clad[3] in their red and white ermine cloaks[4] and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour[5]. That is Illegal too.  

Close to 4000 people participated in a survey[6] run by television channel UKTV Gold, which asked viewers to vote for the stupidest legislation from a shortlist of bizarre British laws, the Telegraph reports. The law about expiring[7] in parliament was easily the winner, pulling in over a quarter of all votes.

But there is a reason for the seemingly odd rule, according to Nigel Cawthorne, author of The Strange Laws of Old England. He told the Telegraph: "Anyone who dies there is technically entitled to a state funeral[8]. If they see you looking a bit sick they carry you out quickly." In second place, with 7%, was a law that makes it an act of treason[9] to place a postage stamp bearing[10] the British monarch upside-down. Third place was won by an edict[11] from Liverpool, which states that public nudity is illegal in the city ... unless you are a clerk[12] in a tropical fish shop. That law was rated ridiculous, said a poll of 3,931 people for UKTV Gold television out Tuesday. 

However a spokesperson[13] for Liverpool City Council told the Telegraph the "law" was a myth and had no basis in fact. Other rules were deemed[14] utterly stupid included one that permits a pregnant woman to urinate in a policeman's hat and murdering Scotsmen carrying a bow-and-arrow[15] within the city walls of York, northern England.

Nearly half of those who took the survey admitted to breaking the ban on eating mince pies[16] on Christmas Day, which dates back to the 17th century and was originally designed to outlaw gluttony during the rule of the Puritan Oliver Cromwell[17]. Respondents[18] to the survey were also questioned about strange international laws, including statutes[19] forbidding the practice of getting fish drunk in Ohio, driving while blindfolded in Alabama and naming a pig Napoleon in France.

A quick trawl[20] through New Zealand laws failed to flag[21] any which could immediately be construed as antiquated[22], though the law banning[23] television advertising on Sunday mornings caused a few headaches for the New Zealand TV3 channel during last month's Rugby World Cup coverage…

10 Most ridiculous British laws

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27%)
2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (7%)
3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless[24] except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (6%)
4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (5%)
5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (4%t)
6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (4%)
7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king and the tail of the queen (3.5%)
8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3%)
9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour (3%)
10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (2%)

Most ridiculous foreign laws:

1. In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk (9%)
2. In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation (8%)
3. In Bahrain, a male doctor can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror (7%)
4. In Switzerland, a man may not relieve[25] himself standing up after 10pm (6%)
5. In Alabama, it is illegal to be blindfolded[26] while driving a vehicle (6%)
6. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed (6%)
7. In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth (6%)
8. In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except funerals or hospital visits (5%)
9. In Japan, there is no age of consent (5%)
10. In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon (4%)

________________________________________
[1] To prohibit: interdire
[2] To be bored to death: être ennuyé à mourir
[3] Clad: habillé
[4] Ermine Cloaks: des capes d'hermine
[5] Suit of armor: armure complète
[6] A survey: un sondage
[7] To expire: (ici) mourir
[8] Entitled to a state funeral: avoir droit à des funérailles officielles
[9] An act of treason: un acte de trahison
[10] To bear: (ici) porter, afficher
[11] An edict: un décret
[12] A clerk: un employé        
[13] A spokesperson: un porte-parole
[14] To be deemed: être jugé
[15] A bow-and-arrow: un arc et une flèche
[16] Mince pies: tartelette à la pâte de fruits secs
[17] Outlaw gluttony during the rule of the puritan Oliver Cromwell:
Bannir la gourmandise pendant le règne du puritain Oliver Cromwell
[18] Respondent: personnes interrogées
[19] A statute: une loi
[20] A quick trawl: (ici) un rapide passage
[21] To fail to flag: ne pas réussir à signaler
[22] Construed as antiquated: comprises comme désuètes, obsolètes
[23] To ban: interdire
[24] Topless: seins nus
[25] Relieve: se soulager
[26] To blindfold: bander les yeux

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o    In your opinion, are such laws necessary?  Why have they been created?
o    What laws, in the French or British constitution, do you find particularly useless and why?
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