Top 10 Legal Things You Can Do In America That Are Banned In Other Countries

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Top 10 Legal Things You Can Do In America That Are Banned In Other Countries

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
Outside of America, doing any of the things on this list are a big no-no. For this list, we'll be looking at things that are lawful in the United States, but illegal elsewhere. Our countdown includes Too Much Ketchup in School Cafeterias, Valentine's Day, Bounty Hunters, and more!
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Top 10 Legal Things You Can Do In America That Are Banned In Other Countries


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Legal Things You Can Do in America That Are Banned in Other Countries.

For this list, we’ll be looking at things that are lawful in the United States, but illegal elsewhere.

Do you think any of these should be illegal in the US? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Weird Baby Names

Various
In the land of the free, Americans are welcome to name their kids just about anything they want. Consequently, you’ve likely seen news articles about people giving their newborn children highly … unconventional names. In contrast, some other countries have strict laws. For example, you reportedly can’t name your kid Batman in Australia! Or Panties. Or LOL, Spinach, or Circumcision. Denmark is even more restrictive. Their Law on Personal Names requires residents to choose from a pre-approved list that includes 18,000 names for boys and 22,000 for girls. You can get an exemption but it requires authorization from a church and is subject to government review.


#9: Too Much Ketchup in School Cafeterias

France
A staple of virtually every American food establishment, ketchup is the condiment of choice for many people. However, in 2011, it was reported that ketchup had been banned from school cafeterias … except with French Fries. However, children could only enjoy French Fries once a week. The government issued the decree to ensure a healthier diet in schools, and also to preserve Gallic cuisine. We wonder if any French kids rebelled by smuggling packets, or - Heaven forbid - whole bottles of ketchup into school? Daring indeed.


#8: Turning Right on Red

Various
Across the United States, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn right on a red light at an intersection - unless you’re in New York City, where it’s only allowed at certain intersections. In Canada, it’s banned on the Island of Montreal. However, many countries have banned it nationwide. For example, a right turn on red is generally not allowed in Europe. The equivalent in Australia and New Zealand - a left turn on a red - is also banned, except where signs or green arrows indicate otherwise. In fact, it’s easier to find countries where turning on red is illegal, or permitted only with special signage, than where it’s normal as in the US.


#7: Baby Walkers

Canada
Baby walkers allow infants to “walk” before they’ve developed the ability to do so unassisted. However, some studies have found that the devices actually delay development. And they also cause quite a few injuries. In the US, they’re responsible for a few thousand emergency room visits a year. Due to safety concerns, the sale of baby walkers has been banned in Canada since 2004. It’s also illegal to own one! People who own baby walkers can be fined up to 100,000 Canadian dollars, or even jailed for six months!

#6: Valentine's Day

Various
It’s a day for people to celebrate their love for one another. Sales of roses and chocolates skyrocket, and couples everywhere take a day to revere each other. That is, unless you live in one of the few countries that have banned Saint Valentine’s Day. In Pakistan, the Islamabad High Court has banned public celebrations of the holiday. There have also been crackdowns in Saudi Arabia, although it’s gaining more acceptance. Some cities in Indonesia have banned celebrations too. The biggest reason has been the idea that it conflicts with Islamic culture, and that it represents a Western tradition.


#5: Adultery

Various
Adultery is actually still a crime in 17 US states. However, these laws are very rarely enforced. Other states have abolished such laws altogether. You can still face serious penalties in other countries though - especially as a woman. In the Philippines, only a wife can be charged with adultery, although a husband can face charges of concubinage. In Pakistan, adultery can be punished with death; it’s actually difficult for women to report assault and not face adultery charges. You can also face execution for adultery in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan. In other places, such as Uganda and Rwanda, you may face a prison sentence and a fine.


#4: Incandescent Light Bulbs

Various
When Thomas Edison demonstrated his light bulb design in 1879, he may have known he was onto something revolutionary. However, the bulb came with key flaws, specifically inefficiency and a short lifespan. With the emergence of CFL and LED lights, many countries have phased out the older bulbs in favor of less power-hungry alternatives. They include Canada, Australia, Russia, Brazil, and the entire European Union. The European Commission calculates that the ban contributes billions to the economy and significantly reduces CO2 emissions. The US had planned to follow suit, but was left behind when politics got in the way.

#3: Bounty Hunters

Various
When someone is charged with a crime and gets out on bail, it’s essentially a contract binding the individual to return to court at a later date. In the United States, a defendant can hire a bail bondsman to put up the money for bail. Should the defendant run, the bondsman can employ a bounty hunter to track them down. Bounty hunters aren’t subject to the same legal restrictions as official law enforcement, giving them advantages otherwise unavailable. Although they were common worldwide for many years, they are now considered illegal virtually everywhere but the US. It’s also the major reason why American bounty hunters have no jurisdiction outside their own country.

#2: BHA & BHT Preservatives

Various
Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene are two preservatives that you may have never heard of, nor can easily pronounce. Both of these are used as a means to prevent oxidation which can cause food to spoil. Unfortunately however, research has found that both can contribute to cancer in rats. In addition, a US government report indicated that BHA is likely to cause cancer in human beings. As a result of the dangers, many countries have banned these chemicals from use. The United States Food and Drug Administration however has deemed them “generally recognized as safe”, which is why they are found in most packaged foods within the US.


#1: Plastic Bags

Various
The 21st century has seen a rise in movements towards a more eco-friendly culture. One target of these has been the single-use plastic bag. Seen in virtually every supermarket and convenience store, the world has slowly been moving to reduce the use of these bags. Many countries have outright banned them, while others have imposed taxes or surcharges on the use of the bags in an effort to encourage the use of reusable ones. However, the United States has seen very little momentum here. A few states and cities have joined in, but by and large, the US still remains a safe haven for the throwaway sacks.
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