Sex is becoming less of a taboo topic here in the US. But while many of us are enjoying the liberation that comes with being able to express their sexuality, there are still many laws about sex around the world where something as innocent as sharing a kiss with your other half could land you in hot water.
From illegal erotic music to jail time for doing the deed on a motorbike, the laws around the world are as varied as sex itself. Some rules are recent and in full force, whereas others are relics of a bygone age that for some reason just haven’t been changed. The chances of you getting in serious trouble for breaking some of these laws about sex are slim, but do you really want to risk it?
To keep you safe on your next trip away, we’ve rounded up the 10 strangest laws about sex around the world.
1. Singapore: Window flashing is illegal
In Singapore, it’s illegal to strut around nude if you’re in a private place that’s in public view. This includes standing in front of your window. According to the Singapore government, “a person appearing nude includes a person who is clad in such a manner as to offend against public decency or order,” so underwear and bikinis are probably a no too.
2. Japan: Censored privates
While the diversity of sexual acts in Japan is huge compared with other liberal countries, the nation is still pretty buttoned-up when it comes to porn. Exposed genitals are still blurred out, even in hentai films, comics, or games. Interestingly, the continued popularity of tentacle porn — perhaps the country’s most notorious subgenre — is partly due to these censorship laws. In an interview with AAN, animator and self-proclaimed “tentacle master” Toshio Maeda said he used octopus arms as a way to bypass the blurred-privates policy.
3. Uganda: No sexy music
The Uganda Parliament passed the Anti-Pornography Bill in 2014 and invested almost $300,000 on a South Korean-made “pornography detection machine” for rooting out offenders. Those caught and convicted will be locked up for 10 years. But here’s the kicker: Porn isn’t movies and photos. It also includes audio recordings, writing, and erotic music. So make sure you wipe all notoriously sexy tracks of your phone before visiting the country.
4. Australia: Big boobs only
There’s a rumor going around that the Australian Classification Board blacklisted porn sites featuring women with A-cup breasts for fear they’ll promote pedophilia. It was first reported that all material featuring smaller-boobed actresses had been banned. A spokesperson for the Australian Classification Board later clarified that the rule only applies to “publications which contain offensive depictions or descriptions of persons who are or appear to be persons under the age of 18.”
5. Poland: Death by gun for zoophilia
According to the book Useless Sexual Trivia: Tastefully Prurient Facts About Everyone’s Favorite Subject, you could be shot in the head for having sex with animals in Krakow — but only if you do it three times. The official punishment in Poland is now a more reasonable three years in prison and a donation to an animal shelter. As of 2015, Hungary, Finland, and Romania are the only EU countries where bestiality, or zoophilia, is legal.
6. Illinois, US: Reptile nuzzling is banned
When someone sells a reptile in Illinois, they are legally required to give the buyer a written warning telling them not to kiss the beast. According to the official legislation, the purchaser must not “nuzzle or kiss your pet reptile.”
7. Indonesia: No self-pleasure
Online rumors would have you believe the punishment for a little you-time in Indonesia is decapitation, but it’s not quite true. According to a formal query made to the secretary of information at the Indonesian embassy, the punishment is a maximum of 32 months imprisonment.
8. Alabama, US: Illegal if it’s plastic
In 1998, the supreme court of Alabama outlawed the sale of “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary value.” Sex toys are also illegal in the Maldives, Thailand, India, Saudia Arabia, and Malaysia. If you’re caught with a plastic phallus in your luggage going through Vietnam customs, you’ll be ordered to hand it over — but you can reclaim it when you exit the country.
9. California: No boob pillows near a highway
Stuffed items made to look like breasts, also known as “boobies pillows,” can’t be sold within 1,000 feet of a highway. Under Section 9 of the Kern County California Code of Ordinance Guide, residents of the county petitioned to “prevent persons who display, sell or offer to sell upholstered or stuffed articles depicting, simulating or caricaturing female breasts.”
The report adds, “The hawking of those articles named by its vendor and sold as “boobies pillows” along the public highways is a species of indecency and vulgarity which cannot be ignored or controlled by passersby, which assails the eyes and minds of all who are required to use county highways.”
10. London: No motorbike sex
In London, it’s reportedly illegal to have sex on a motorbike — but only if it’s parked. The law doesn’t say anything about doing the deed on a moving bike though, so…challenge accepted? Kidding. Don’t do this.
A version of this article was previously published on February 24, 2020, and was updated on January 12, 2022.