Memorandum submitted by British Naturism
1. British Naturism is the representative
organisation for naturists in the UK.
2. About 1.5 million people in the
United Kingdom describe themselves as being a naturist
and there are about 10 times that number who practise naturism
to at least some extent When a naturist gets dressed the disguise
is perfect and there is a reluctance to "come out" so
few people realise how numerous we are.
There are surprisingly high level of acceptance
by the public but there is a small minority
who are deeply prejudiced against nudity.
3. For many people naturism is an important
part of their faith and for many more it is a valuable part of
their belief system and philosophy of life.
4. Provision for naturism in the UK is woefully
inadequate. There are only a handful of clothes optional beaches,
mainly along the south coast. There are no naturist beaches. Obtaining
the use of local authority facilities such as swimming pools is
often impossible. When we do manage to obtain a session the cost
is often exorbitant.
5. The legality of nudity is characterised
by vagueness and uncertainty. For example one police area commander
was adamant that public place nudity is always illegal whilst
another influential officer told us that it was lawful under circumstances
that even we find surprising. Defending against fixed penalty
notices or prosecution has been made extremely difficult, expensive
and risky. Consequently the legality of naturism is largely determined
by individual police officers and whether or not the naturist
is prepared to risk their career. For health service workers,
teachers or anyone else needing an enhanced CRB check naturism
is effectively illegal in any public place apart from the dozen
or so designated beaches. In many European countries nudity is
but in the United Kingdom we enjoy no such protection.
6. Naturists encounter significant discrimination
and prejudice. It does result in appreciable harm to individuals,
groups and to society as a whole and it does cause unnecessary
curtailment of individual freedom.
7. The currently available protection against
discrimination is inadequate but we believe that comparatively
minor changes to legislation and policy could remedy that deficit.
8. We have written to the Government Equalities
Office in an attempt to open discussions but we were rebuffed.
9. Singling out particular forms of discrimination
has the effect of making other types seem more acceptable. The
protection against other unjustified discrimination must be strengthened
10. The only justification for discrimination
against any group or activity is to prevent harm that clearly
outweighs benefit. There are many myths about what is harmful
or beneficial and mistakes can cause immense harm. Hence there
must be an absolute requirement that decisions are based on evidence.
Anything else is indistinguishable from prejudice and a popularly
held prejudice is not any less a prejudice because it is popularly
held. Much of the discrimination that we encounter is due to the
common misconception that there is a popular prejudice against
11. We are not aware of any evidence that
nudity can cause harm to anyone, of any age
but we do know of research showing that naturism is beneficial.
There is also very conclusive evidence that censorious attitudes
towards the human body cause immense harm. Hence there is a synergistic
relationship between naturism and healthy attitudes towards the
12. The principle causes of the discrimination
that we encounter are:
1. Prejudice of individuals and reluctance by
others to prevent it.
2. Misconceptions concerning public attitudes.
3. Misconceptions concerning the law.
4. Unintended consequences of legislation.
13. People working in sensitive professions
such as teaching or the health service are increasingly reluctant
to practice naturism for fear that it could harm or even destroy
their career. We have cases demonstrating that their apprehension
is not unfounded.
14. We have encountered serious difficulties
with both councils and swimming pool management companies. It
is near impossible to persuade them to run naturist swimming sessions
and it can be a mammoth task to find a pool to hire. Even when
one can be found they often seek to impose unacceptable, offensive
or ridiculous conditions.
The most common reason for a naturist swim closing is a change
of pool management
and the next is the hire charges demanded. Admission prices are
often well above the going rate and double or even treble is not
15. Statutory bodies should be required
to treat minority groups according to the evidence but many are
reluctant to do so. Accordingly we believe it essential that there
is a duty to make reasonable provision for naturists and other
minority groups. It is difficult to see how there could be any
objection to a requirement to be reasonable.
16. Many people assume that naturists can
not possible have any rights. It is important that naturists are
recognised as a legitimate social group.
17. License conditions often fail to distinguish
between the sex industry and naturism. This has caused serious
problems and we suspect that many naturist events are only able
to go ahead because a blind eye is turned. Regrettably legislation
intended to regulate the sex industry is being used to control
how people dress.
18. We far too often encounter statements
in official documents or on signs that are offensive. They are
often particularly offensive to naturist families.
19. Much censorship is based on prejudice.
There are thousands of bodies with a responsibility to censor.
There are none with a responsibility to prevent harmful censorship.
1. The Bill will result in increased discrimination
against many groups thereby denying them their human rights. It
fails to address some important issues.
2. Naturists meet with significant discrimination
due to prejudice against their lifestyle and beliefs. Recognition
as a legitimate minority group is necessary.
3. People working in sensitive occupations
increasingly do not feel free to be a naturist.
4. There should be a duty to make reasonable
provision for minority groups such as naturists.
5. Discriminative decisions need to be based
on evidence that can be evaluated and if necessary challenged.
There is a lack of transparency and accountability.
6. The activities of censors should be regulated
to ensure that censorship is necessary and based on evidence.
Much censorship is based on prejudice which leads to unjustifiable
discrimination and there is no reasonably accessible means of
appeal. The right to free speech does not have adequate protection.
11 January 2009
110 NOP poll. 2001. "and would you describe yourself
as being a naturist?" Back
The Statistics Briefing Note provides further information. Back
NOP poll. 2001. Sensible 40 per cent, harmless 88 per
cent. No detectable difference for adults with children. Back
NOP poll. 2001. Beach naturism: Call the police 1 per cent,
criminal 2 per cent, disgusting 7 per cent. Back
It is not coincidence that all of those countries have much better
outcomes for many body image and body knowledge related problems
such as teenage pregnancy. Back
The research on the effects of flashing cited in "Setting
the Boundaries", was a seriously flawed unpublished student
dissertation. It was quoted out of context and it is not relevant
to naturism. We can provide further information on request. Back
The differences between the most prudish western countries and
the most liberal are enormous. Teenagers become sexually active
younger, are more likely to be promiscuous and less likely to
use a condom or contraception. The results are predictable. Over
seventy times more likely to catch gonorrhoea and 10 times
more likely to become pregnant or to have an abortion. Back
There is only one at present and it is the only naturist swimming
session in the country that bans children and hence families. Back
One council, about a week before a new hire was due to start,
imposed a condition that resulted in only one person being eligible
to attend! They relented but it illustrates the problem. Back
Briefing note-Prejudice (Local Authority Pool). Back