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I now pronounce you wife and wife…

In some traditional societies in Kenya and Nigeria it is acceptable for two women to have a non-sexual marriage – usually as a way of securing the family line, or holding onto an inheritance.
With same-sex marriage now legal in 17 countries including the U.K. and South Africa, and with 33 of the American States fully recognising same-sex marriages, the idea of a country which abhors homosexuality allowing this sort of same-sex union is very strange indeed. But this is far from the strangest legal loophole regarding marriage. Let us take you on a worldwide tour of some of the more unusual marriage laws.


In the U.K. the English Law of Settlement of the eighteenth century means that should the heir to the throne marry a Catholic, they relinquish their right to the throne.
Middle East

In Dubai, extramarital sex is illegal – sadly, this means that both a rapist and their victim can be charged with the same crime.

In Saudi Arabia, there is no minimum age for a person to get married. There is also a law which states that Saudi men may not marry women from Bangladesh, Chad, Myanmar (Burma), or Pakistan.

Asia and the Pacific

It is well known that in Japan, respect for your elders is sacrosanct. Rather unusually this means that if a man proposes to his younger brother’s fiancée they are obliged to agree.
There are several parts of Kyrgyzstan, China, and India, where marriage by kidnap remains. This can range from the symbolic – female family members crying and clutching at the bride as she walks down the aisle – to the actual.

And in Samoa, it is illegal to forget your wife’s birthday. We’re pretty sure there are women in other countries who might like to institute this law too!


Due to the nature of federal and state laws, there are many states in the U.S. which retain unusual laws:

• In Delaware an annulment may be granted if the marriage was entered into as a ‘jest or dare’
• In South Caroline it is considered a misdemeanour for a man to propose for the purposes of seduction
• In Salem, Massachusetts a married couple must not sleep naked in a rented room. No honeymoon nights for Salem couples!
• The women of Vermont must obtain written permission from their husbands should they require dentures
• If you live in Wichita, Kansas, be nice to your mother-in-law – mistreating her can be grounds for divorce.
• And if you’re celebrating your marriage in Mobile, Alabama, make sure you warn your guests not to bring confetti, as it’s illegal.

If you’re getting married, and you want to be sure of your rights – perhaps draw up a pre-nuptial agreement – contact us at Tayntons Solicitors, and let us advise you.

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