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Naturism and the law

Ok, I'm going to go into the subject that many find confusing and believe it is illegal to be nude in public in the UK.

So let's get this correct from the start, naturism and public nudity is lawful and is not a criminal offense. I will be using info from the guide that is issued to all BN members as they have a legal team and have looked into this for years so know what is correct.

" Nudity is legal in a much wider set of circumstances than is sometimes assumed and according to the director of public prosecution's guidance on nudity in public of September 2013 to the crown prosecution service "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" According to the cps guidance every case is considered on its facts"

So it is saying that the rights too of the naturist, as well as the public, must be considered. This means that a naturist that lives their normal life doing day to day activities can do so nude if they are not doing it to cause harassment, alarm, or distress which no true naturist is ever setting out to do.

No case brought against a naturist for doing naturism has been prosecuted since 2013.

So a naturist or a group of naturists can by law be legally nude if they are just going about there normal lives, for example - in their gardens at home doing gardening or sunbathing, etc, out on a naturist walk on the hillside or open public land, being nude sunbathing or swimming at a beach ( as far as I am aware all naturists go to a naturist beach and not public ones), etc


So if being nude is perfectly ok and legal then when does it become illegal?

Well, again I will use extracts from the BN guide to explain.

"Section 66 of the sexual offences act 2003 was created to separate naturists and others who are lawfully naked in private or public from 'flashers' where there is a sexual context and an intent to cause alarm or distress".

So this is clearly differentiating between naturists and people that are deliberately exposing themselves to upset others. Naturists are not nude for others to see, no, they are nude as they feel more comfortable that way, whereas a 'flasher' to use their word, is only nude or exposing their sexual organs to cause a reaction from others.

So an example, last week myself and another male naturist did a 6-mile walk over the south downs and about a mile from the end as we walked along a secluded track in some woodland we saw a boy run around the corner up in the distance. As soon as we saw him we covered up as naturist hikers/walkers do if children or other vulnerable people are about. A few moments later he reappeared around the corner with the rest of his family, we walked past and nothing was said and once we had gone around the corner and out of sight we removed our clothes and carried on walking nude. If that had been a flasher and not naturists then I expect that they would have been hidden in the bushes or covered with a coat and then as the family was near them they would have presented their genitals or nude body directly to them and then ran off.

So clearly that shows why naturists can be nude in public and not be breaking the law whereas a flasher cannot as the naturists don't try to be seen and will cover to avoid distress or alarm whereas a flasher does the opposite.


"the briefing note of 2018 from the police college on naturism no longer refers to section 5 of the public order act as section 66 of the sexual offences act was predicated on the basis that the human body itself is not a cause of 'alarm or distress' and would contradict the doctrine, So seeing a naked person just walking or working in their garden etc doing normal naturist activities is not a cause for alarm or distress."

Being honest, everybody see's at least their own body nude or their partners at least once in their lives, so when they do does the thought go through their mind telling them they are alarmed or distressed? No, of course not. we are all born nude and most people see a nude body at least once a day even if it is their own so how can seeing another person's body nude be alarming.

And one for the religious people to ponder on - the world started with a god and two naturists in a garden I believe.


Now to quote a good thing to bear in mind.

"Section 4a of the public order act 1986 - intentionally causing 'harassment, alarm or distress'
To breach this section, a person MUST have used ' threatening or abusive words or behaviour - or disorderly behaviour' within hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused ' harassment, alarm or distress'
This section requires intentional actions to be undertaken against another using genital's in a threatening or abusive manner. Simple dislike or belief of illegality is insufficient to meet these criteria".

So let's see then. if you are just a naturist out in a public area and somebody comes up to you and shouts verbal abuse or threatening behaviour because you are nude and they don't like it then the law actually defines them as being the person breaking the law and not you. Just because they don't like the fact you are nude does not mean you are breaking the law. If asked by someone to cover up then the majority of naturists will and then discuss it with the person after - well at least that is what I do and all the naturists I know. There will be the odd occasion this happens and it is far easier to cover up and try to explain to them or show them a copy of the BN info sheet on the law rather than to stay nude and argue it out.

There are some 'die-hard' naturists that believe they do not need to cover up for anybody including vulnerable people like children or lone females and whilst they are right that the law says they can be nude it does not help naturism or themselves and just makes naturists look like they are nude to show the world their bodies and don't care who sees, this is not the case and is in fact the total opposite. Again I will say that naturists do not go out to be seen nude, they do it as they feel most comfortable like it and if asked to cover they do so or if see a vulnerable person they cover up without having to be asked long before that person is near to them.


I am a ride Marshal for the Brighton World naked bike ride every year and have to be on the lookout for problems that arise. yes the riders including myself are nude so they fall under naturists, even if it is just for one day, so my naturist mind takes fully over and there have been many times when I have seen a rider playing with their penis and it is becoming erect and at that point, I have to go over and ask them to stop and cover it until it has gone down. If they are caught doing it again they are asked to leave the ride and if needed the police are informed but we always try to deal with it ourselves first as that sort of behaviour will not be tolerated by naturists which clearly shows that naturists self-police and if we see something that is not acceptable then we will act upon it accordingly.


So as you can see from all the above naturists can be nude in their home, garden or a public place if they are just doing their normal activities and is not breaking the law.

A person that is in their back garden playing with there genitals is NOT a naturist and would be classed as either an exhibitionist or flasher and is breaking the law.


The easiest way to tell the difference is a naturist does not go out with the intention to be seen nude whereas a flasher or exhibitionist does. The naturist is not breaking the law being nude in public whereas the flasher or exhibitionist is.


The law is there to protect both the naturists and the public. My advice is if you are out in public and are nude and someone comes over hurling abuse at you and demanding you get dressed then do so, set your mobile phone to record and try to explain you are not breaking the law. if they continue to be abusive or threatening then the law is there to protect you as well and do not feel scared to call the police. If you were just nude and not doing anything to cause alarm or distress then you have not broken the law whereas their abusive threatening behaviour has.

Sometimes the best way to deal with that sort of situation is to just cover up and go to some other place. it is better to avoid a confrontation than to deal with the aftermath.

Be confident in being a naturist. For more info on the law and to get a copy of the BN legal advice that can fold down to a credit card size, please go to BN.org.uk

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