Major city once had a so-called ‘ugly law’

By Around the Web


(KDVR) – History is not always pretty, and a historical ordinance in Denver against people who were “diseased” or “maimed” – sometimes referred to as an “ugly law” – is no exception. The ordinance punished people who were an “unsightly or disgusting object” from exposing themselves to public view with a fine.

The ordinance specifically stated that: “Any person who is in any way diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object, or an improper person to be allowed upon the streets, highways, thoroughfares or public places, shall not therein or thereon expose himself or herself to public view, under a penalty of one dollar for each offense.”

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It isn’t clear exactly when the ordinance was enacted, but it appeared in the Denver municipal ordinances between 1884 and 1886. The law had a penalty of $1 in all of the iterations archived through the University of Colorado, which, adjusted for inflation, would be about $31 in 2024.

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