On Twitter I found a link to this website: Nudity in Public – Guidance on handling cases of Naturism. It’s a British website.
The first section is already interesting, and… alarming:
Naturism is used to describe the activities of persons who espouse nudity as part of their lifestyle. Whilst many naturists will restrict their activities to specially designated areas and/or places where there is a tradition of naked activity, such as nudist beaches, others may wish to enjoy nudity more widely.
In the case of naturism a balance needs to be struck between the naturist’s right to freedom of expression and the right of the wider public to be protected from harassment, alarm and distress.
I am not sure how ‘harassment’ made it to this list. When someone like us, a real naturist, is lying in the grass somewhere to enjoy the sun, is that harassing someone? I understand that the clothing-only society can be “alarmed” when seeing someone naked. Plenty of people will feel distress when they look at a nude body. It’s sad but it’s how the world ticks at the moment. But harassment?
Is there some general fear that nudists will run up to clothed people and shake their breasts or genitals in front of their faces?
That’s more the expertise of exhibitionists, I’d say, but I’m not one of those so I speak without experience in that area.
Luckily the website clarifies this a little in the next section:
In the absence of any sexual context and in relation to nudity where the person has no intention to cause alarm or distress it will normally be appropriate to take no action unless members of the public were actually caused harassment, alarm or distress (as opposed to considering the likelihood of this).
Here is the problem of words versus people again of course. When do we speak of harassment? Some people can’t be harassed by anything, others feel harassed already when you say you heard a child’s doll fart. We’re in a tough line of life-style, folks.
It’s up to us to find and set the balance. Others can’t. Or won’t.
7 thoughts on “Nudity. British guidance.”
You make some interesting points here. As a UK-based naturist, the question of laws and attitudes to nudity interests me.
I am of the view that most people are, when they stop to think about it, basically indifferent to nudity. They just tend to react badly when surprised.
I have been [unintentionally] carrying out an experiment. I go swimming a couple of times a week to a private swimming pool. As it is private, I would not think of wearing any clothes while swimming. My wife accompanies me, when she is available, and, likewise, swims nude. I do not like to swim alone, so, for occasions when my wife is unavailable, I have invited various friends to accompany me. It was not intentional, but all of these friends [6 so far] are female. In each case, I have explained my “dress code” and they have said that they do not mind at all. On the occasions that we have been swimming, all of them choose to wear a costume [I totally respect their choice] and have certainly behaved like they are unconcerned by my nudity.
Although I would agree that a sample of 6 people is hardly a scientific survey, I was pleasantly surprised that I got absolutely no push-back. It was a little hard, the first time, to say “I like to swim nude. Are you OK with that?”, as I feared a bad reaction. But my fears have proved groundless.
That’s fabulous. I am happy for you and your friends for being so open-minded.
Paul, I appreciate this post from the British viewpoint. It seems that the UK and Britain is more tolerant toward nudity in my thinking. I wish a British naturist would share their laws (or lack thereof) with the lawmakers here in the USA. I know that there are other European countries (Denmark, Sweden, Germany) who take no offense at public nudity when it does not include sexual acts. Even sexual activities may not be an offense of law in some countries. The USA could learn some things from British and European countries where naturism is openly accepted and practised. I hope to see simple nudism/naturism in public addressed in the USA before I die. These are my honest thoughts and feelings on simple public nudism/naturism freedom which should not be punishable by law.
You and me both, Patrick. Humanity in the ‘western world’ has become too scared of their own appearance, and that’s a shame…
The reason the wording is as it is, is because the guidance is very closely following the wording of the actually laws that can be applied to a case of public naturism. There is no specific law related to naturism, so in the UK the police need to consider laws that may have an interpretation that connects them to such an occurrance of public nudity. The wording you highlight was laid down in the Public Order Act 1986. This, as you will see from the guidance, is the ONLY law that the police should consider on the occurrance of a naturist going about his daily business. The page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harassment,_alarm_or_distress will help. The guidance notes do not introduce this phrasing from scratch…it was phrasing laid down in law in 1986 by a centre-right government, largely as a response to public order problems that had *nothing to do with nudity* (in fact the law came in largely because of London rioting incidents in the mid 80s). So after much negotiation, the guidance notes are a compromise guide that resulted from long discussions between the Prosecution Service for England and Wales (CPS) and British Naturism. Thankfully, lots of misuse of other laws mentioned has reduced hugely due to the document. Police and magistrates now have a quick access guide that the CPS has approved, and education has increased as to the way naturists live. The remaining law…POA86 should only be used in an instrance where a naturist goes too far in so far of there being a *likelihood* of alarm and/or distress. Remember alarm/distress has an element of *fear*….surprise, insult or anger are NOT sufficient. So walking into a shopping centre will get you arrested…but walking on a remote hillside should be ok. From my point of view I’m happy that BN and the CPS worked towards this. It is a shame the law itself is still hazy, and public education needs much work…so BN are still campaigning, and I think making progress. Hope that helps. Simon
Thank you for this extensive response, Simon. It’s greatly appreciated. I always hope that people will respond and start some kind of discussion.
This is nothing but PC thuggery and it is no surprise coming out of the UK. Seeing a naked body is no more harassment or distressful than a scary Halloween costume. Laws written like this are becoming the norm in British society as a way to limit speech and freedom of expression. It is scary to watch all of these things happen while citizens just politely accept their fate.