Imagine getting in trouble for having a refrigerator that was too big, or objecting at a wedding? That is, in fact, possible in South Australia.

While we all know stealing or assaulting someone can land us in trouble with the police, there are also some peculiar and rather funny laws many South Aussies did not know were enforceable.

But why do some of these laws exist? Deputy Director of the South Australian Law Reform Institute David Plater says these rather specific laws exist because a related event actually happened.

"These laws appear obscure or outdated now but some of these laws go back to the 1800s." he said.

"For example, it might seem a very strange crime (to sell a refrigerator too large) but there were a couple of early refrigerators that were like death traps and there were examples where fridges were abandoned or dumped and young children were playing and sadly got caught in them and some of them died.

"For what seems like an obscure law (now), that made perfect sense when it was first introduced."

It is against the law to kill, injure or take a homing pigeon. FILE PIC
It is against the law to kill, injure or take a homing pigeon. FILE PIC

Law Reform Institute Director John Williams said some of those outdated laws had not been changed because they were not doing any harm or damage.

He also said statutes are rarely given a look over as it took a lot of effort and time to sift out laws.

"We did a big review of discrimination law in SA and we found there were sections (stating) you could not take the sewing equipment of women off them if they were bankrupt and the reason for that was to try and not impoverish women," Mr Williams said.

"There is another example about ringing the doorbell … which was probably put on there because the means of which you were harassed or stalked (in the past) was by ringing the doorbell but today you'd do it over the phone or on Facebook.

"We should always be pruning the statute book to take out the mad, the silly and the obsolete but we should also pause to ask why were they put in?"


We break down some of the most obscure and rather comical laws South Australia has:

Turns out, you can't object

While most people attend weddings to celebrate the marriage of two people, those who intent on objecting should think otherwise. A maximum fine of $10,000 or two years imprisonment is possible if someone obstructs or disturbs a wedding, funeral or religious service. (Section 7A, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA))

Selling fridges that are too large

A maximum $750 fine applies if a person sells a refrigerator that has a capacity of 42.5 litres or more, unless all the doors can easily be opened from the inside or it was purchased before January 1, 1962. (Section 58B, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA))

Don't knock-and-run

A maximum $250 fine applies to someone who disturbs another by wilfully ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door of a house without a reasonable excuse. (Section 50, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA))

You can be fined for disturbing someone at home without a reasonable excuse. FILE PIC
You can be fined for disturbing someone at home without a reasonable excuse. FILE PIC

Leave the pigeons alone

In both South Australian and Victoria, it's illegal to kill, injure or take a homing pigeon. A maximum $250 fine can apply as well compensating the owner for the value of the pigeon under court order. (Sections 47, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA))

Originally published as State's strangest enforceable laws