With its more than 181.000 laws, the Brazilian legal system is totally entangled, anachronistic and confusing even for those who work with it every day. It is so confusing, that even the Federal Court of Justice does not know how many of them were revoked and how many of them are still in force. In this article we will take a look at 7 things that are illegal in Brazil but not often abroad.
The Chamber of Deputies created a special committee to survey all of Brazil’s 181.000 laws and eliminate all of those that were anachronstic or revoked, as well as link those that are similar and cut out those that are contradictory. According to estimates by the committee, that should leave Brazilian legislation with “only” 1.000 laws.
Meanwhile, let’s take a look at 7 laws unique to Brazil. As regional laws tend to be more specific, we will only cover Federal Laws or State laws that are adopted by several states.
Gambling in Brazil is prohibited. Despite that, due to the anachronistic nature of this law - as it was approved back in 1946 - online gambling is permitted as the internet is not regulated as part of the Brazilian territory. Physical gambling in Brazil is prohibited due to the impossibility of the government to monitor winnings made in such games.
Since 1967 hunting as a profession is strictly forbidden in Brazil. Although subsistence hunting is permitted, it is done only in order to preserve the lifestyle of indigenous tribes in Brazil. On the other hand, sport hunting regulation varies from state to state. Since 2013, hunting the European wild boar was permitted for purposes of population control as it is an invasive species.
In public places
A law which forbid smoking in public places will be further enforced by a law that becomes effective in December 2014. This law was passed mainly in order to protect passive smokers. The law forbids the previously legal smoking areas and thus smoking is permitted only in five different public locations:
- Religious cults where smoking is part of the ritual
- Tobacco shops
- Film studios
- Research and Development laboratories for smoking products
- Health care institutions, when the doctor allows the patient to smoke
In Brazil, ANVISA - the National Health Surveillance Agency - has forbid the sale, importation and advertisement of any electronic smoking devices since 2009. According to ANVISA, there is no reliable scientific data proving that it is safe to use and handle electronic smoking devices.
Wearing helmets inside premises
The majority of Brazilian states have a law that forbids the use of helmets or any other type of object or piece of cloth covering the face of individuals upon entering a public or private premise. This law was passed in order to reduce the number of attempts of robbery by bikers. By removing the helmet or piece of cloth, the individual is more easily recognized by security tapes.
Using cellphones inside bank agencies
Most Brazilian municipalities have a law that forbids the use of cellphones inside banking agencies. The main reason for this law is to secure the banking agency’s users from being robbed upon leaving the site. The penalty for not following the law is a fine to the banking agency.
Topless for women
Women being topless at the beach can be regarded as a legal offense in Brazil. According to the the Penal Code, every obscene act is considered a crime and being topless at the beach can be considered an act of public indecency or indecent exposure. Despite that, the law is also subject to interpretation, so there is no consensus about whether being topless should be regarded as a crime as public breastfeeding is not.