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Public Nudity

17 Comments 28th March 2015

The Sexual Offences Act (2003) states that exposure (and hence public nudity) is only a crime if a person's genitals are exposed and they intend for someone to see them and to be caused alarm and distress.

This means that nudists, skinny dippers or nude sunbathers etc. are not breaking the law, as someone has to intend to cause alarm and distress for it to be a crime (and so someone being alarmed or distressed without intent is not a crime).  This is good.

However, someone can still be arrested for public nudity under the common law of breaching the peace.  In order to clarify the situation and futher protect nudists I think that this law should be ammended so that it specifically states that

1) Nudity, by itself, cannot be considered a breach of the peace

2) A person can be arrested for nudity only if there is a serious reason to believe that they intend to cause alarm and distress.

Why does this matter?

The legislative law is very clear that nudity and nudism are not crimes.  However, common law contradicts this by allowing the arrest of nudists for breaching the peace – even if there is no intent to cause alarm and distress, or even if there is no harm, alarm and distress caused in the first place.

It is essential in modern Britain that the rights of minorities are protected.  Nudists are still in an unclear legal position.  A nude walker or skinny dipper (even in a remote area) still has to be aware of the possibility of being arrested, even if they are causing no harm at all.  This is clearly wrong, and it should be recognised that nudity, by itself, should never be considered a crime.

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