Who on earth would’ve thought that it would be illegal to die? That’s right! According to the law, it is illegal to die in some parts of the world. Of course, no one can prosecute you if you accidentally break the law (or not yet, at least), but nonetheless, you’ll be kicking the bucket as a criminal.
Some laws declare that passing away in a place, building, or even on a floor is unlawful. This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as the prohibition of dying.
In the Greek island of Delos, where dying was forbidden for religious reasons, the first instance of death restriction happened in the fifth century BC.
For the most part, today’s prohibition of death is typically a sarcastic reaction to the government’s refusal to expand municipal cemeteries. Death has been outlawed in one town in Spain, numerous communities in France, and Biritiba Mirim in Brazil.
In 2005, an attempt was made in Spain’s municipality of Elche to outlaw death.
Where is it Illegal to Die?
At least everyone has fantasized, at some point or another, about packing up everything and embarking on a globe tour, visiting every location possible. When you stop to think about it, though, death is one occasion when we want to be in a location that is comfortable, familiar, and filled with our loved ones.
But, in other regions where officials have forbidden death. Here are some places across the globe where death is not welcome. It is illegal to die here.
Biritiba Mirim – Brazil
Just 50,000 gravesites could be accommodated at Biritiba Mirim in Sao Paulo. Crypts became overcrowded as a result of having to be shared. In an extreme move, the town’s mayor introduced a public bill in 2005, making it illegal to die. It’s really unlawful for people to pass away.
To make room for new tombstones, the deceased’s family would be singled out and forced to pay fines or possibly serve jail time.
The primary justification for the attempt to enact such a law with such severe penalties if broken is that the town’s 28,000 residents reportedly do not take good care of their health, making them more susceptible to passing away and necessitating the burial of additional bodies in the cemetery, which is already overflowing.
More than 50,000 people have been buried in 3,500 crypts and tombs since the cemetery’s opening in 1910. Twenty recently deceased residents were forced to share a crypt in November 2005 after the cemetery was deemed complete, and several more were buried beneath the walkways.
The mayor claimed that 89% of the municipality comprises subterranean rivers, which provide nearly two million people in So Paulo with essential water supplies. The remaining portion is protected since it is made up of tropical vegetation.
Hence, public property five times the size of the existing cemetery was set aside to make room for a new one, which according to environmental experts, won’t impact the nearby tropical forest or water levels.
The state government agreed to assist with constructing a new vertical cemetery, and the environment council decided to consider such a solution carefully. Nevertheless, as of 2005, something still needed to be done, and the law still needed to be ratified, leaving the matter in limbo. It’s still illegal to die here.
Le Lavandou – France
Death is not permitted in three localities in southern France. As a new cemetery’s application for planning approval was denied because of environmental concerns, the mayor of Le Lavandou abolished death in 2000.
“A ludicrous law to fight an absurd situation,” he said of the new bylaw. Cugnaux likewise outlawed death in 2007 for similar reasons, and after getting permission to expand the local cemetery, Sarpourenx decided to do the same thing the following year, in 2008.
Philippe Guérin, who at the time served as mayor of Cugnaux, a town close to Toulouse, recalls, “We had a severe problem.” Guérin sought to construct a new cemetery on undeveloped property adjacent to a nearby airfield.
Still, he needed help getting the prefecture to sanction the plan (the French equivalent of a local authority). This seemed ludicrous to him, considering that the area had previously received approval for constructing a supermarket, a much more disruptive use.
Guérin claims, “I spoke to several people. I made an effort to schedule a meeting with the perfect. I wrote the [interior] ministry in a letter. The failure. We became frustrated and said, ‘Fine, we must stop people from dying because it is absurd to permit a store but not a graveyard. So I made it illegal to die.’”
Itsukushima – Japan
The Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the island of Itsukushima, which is revered in Shinto tradition as a sacred place. Shinto worship places a high value on purity. Hence the shrine’s priests have made an effort to maintain the island free of the contamination of death. It was deemed that it was illegal to die on the island.
In fact, the victorious commander of the only conflict to have occurred on the island, the Battle of Miyajima in 1555, ordered the removal of the dead soldiers to the mainland and the thorough cleaning of the battlefield, including scrubbing structures and the removal of soil stained with blood.
Itsukushima Shrine’s purity must be preserved at all costs; hence since 1878, no births or deaths have been allowed near the shrine. As the due date draws near, pregnant women are still expected to leave the island, as are the terminally ill or the very old whose demise has become imminent.
On the island, burials are still prohibited.
Lanjarón — Spain
The town of Lanjarón in Andalusia has a death ban. This regulation will continue to apply to the village, which has 4,000 residents until the government purchases property for a new cemetery.
The mayor who issued the directive claims that he was prompted to enact the embarrassing new regulation by legislators who pressed him to find a speedy solution to a persistent issue. Even among the mayor’s political opponents, who opposed the edict, citizens find it immensely popular, and most have a good sense of humor about it. So yes, it’s still illegal to die here.
Longyearbyen – Norway
The little Norwegian town of Longyearbyen is well-known for its coal mining. Being so close to the Arctic Circle, the region frequently experiences freezing temperatures, and the permafrost delays the decay of dead bodies, increasing the risk of infectious diseases spreading to the living.
Due to the permafrost, the bodies of local residents who perished in the 1918 flu epidemic have not decomposed, raising concerns that the bodies still contain live virus strains.
Therefore, passing away and being buried in Longyearbyen is often forbidden. And if someone is close to passing away, they are taken to the Norwegian mainland and other regions where it is not illegal to die!
Sellia – Italy
In the Southern Italian town of Sellia, where there are only 560 people, 65% of the population is over 65. To protect the town’s dwindling population, a rule prohibiting people from even getting sick (much alone dying) was enacted in 2015.
Although it was a rigorous manner of imposing the message to people to keep healthy, the details instructed the older population to defy death. It felt like this was the only way for the mayor to encourage the citizens to get fit.
Individuals who willfully choose not to undergo health examinations to comply with this rule will be subject to a €10 annual fine.
Zicchinella, a trained pediatrician, claims that she could not prohibit direct suicide by law. “You cannot use the law to impose an impossible. Yet, I want to combat death. We’ve put this measure into force not as a joke, but as something severe, because Sellia, like many other towns in southern Italy, is impacted by depopulation,” he said in a statement to the media at the time.
More taxes will be levied as a punishment for people who don’t care for themselves or adopt unhealthy behaviors. “You cannot just die anymore,” he says. “It’s illegal to die in these times.”
Why Is This Law Still in Effect?
This sounds absurd. Okay, that’s ludicrous. Chris Morris fans may remember that the concept was humorous in the 1990s. “What do you believe should be the death penalty?” This is a question Morris poses to a bystander in the On the Hour segment titled The Death Penalty.
A startled onlooker said, “I think you should hang them in some situations.” “So, you should be hanged if you die?”
Yet, it has occasionally been taken seriously. Of course, until 1961, suicide was prohibited in Britain, and in certain areas, it still is. Although such a rule is obviously meaningless to the deceased, folks who attempt suicide are still occasionally penalized.
For instance, according to Malaysia’s penal code, “Anyone who attempts suicide or commits any act that contributes to the commission of such an offense shall be imprisoned for a term that may not exceed one year, a fine, or both.”
Even in countries where the authorities acknowledge that fatalities occasionally occur, measures have been taken to end the practice there. Thucydides noted that dying (and indeed giving birth) was forbidden on Delos the sacred island in the 5th century BC to appease the era’s relatively high-maintenance gods.
To prevent future deaths or births on the island, Thucydides writes, “all the tombs of those who had died in Delos were dug up. Those about to die or give birth were transferred across to Rhenea.”
Shortly put, the traditional “ban on death” tactic is frequently the local government’s version of a naked calendar—a jovial method to draw attention to their cause.
Amid the media frenzy that followed the death ban, 100 people in Sellia signed up for health exams; maybe one or two of those people had their lives saved. Cugnaux still lacks a cemetery eight years after it was founded.
Guérin asserts, “It ought to be open in a few years. It requires time in France.”
So there you are! A morbid list of places around the world where it is considered illegal to die. I invite you to visit these beautiful places. Just keep one thing in mind, however.
Next, read about the Haunting of the Myrtles Plantation. Then, if you’re into really dark history, read What Happened at the Most Haunted Island In the World!
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