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  • Andrew Welch
    Andrew Welch

    Is it legal to sunbathe naked in my garden?

    In short - yes!

    During the heatwave, we’ve seen this question posed across the media and it’s a bit annoying to Naturists that there is even a suggestion that it might not be.

    The Sexual Offences Act of 2003 specifically excludes Naturism - it is perfectly ok to take your clothes off to enjoy the sun and the breeze on your skin, or the life-affirming feeling of swimming without a costume. However, if you do so because you have the intention of causing ‘alarm and distress’ then it could be a criminal offence though the onus is on the onlooker to prove the intent. Despite what many journalists said this week, merely being ‘offended’ is not enough to warrant a call to the authorities. Let’s face it, in this Mrs Grundy society, they’d be inundated! 

    It follows that nudity is permissible in all public places…and how could it not be? It’s our natural state. It’s only social conditioning that tells us that certain parts of our body are - choose your own adjective: shameful, disgusting, sexual, offensive, ridiculous - and must therefore be hidden away. The harmful growth in poor body image and almost obsessive focus on appearance as the only measure of a person’s worth is entirely because we’ve suppressed normal bodies so much that no-one knows what normal is anymore and the only indicator of how to be is the airbrushed celebrity. Sadly, the same conditioning has led people to conclude that a nude person, especially a man, must be up to no good. No-one, ever, children included, has been harmed by the sight of a naked person.

    We’re aware of the sensitivities though. Many people never think to challenge what their parents and teachers taught them when they were very young. That social conditioning, the stigma and taboos are thus ingrained and it takes a lot to change attitudes. Whilst it’s perfectly legal, Naturists will rarely be nude in very public places, it’s too easily misunderstood, or treated with suspicion, and it only takes one member of the public to make a fuss and the damage is done. We’ve worked with the CPS who subsequently published guidelines about public nudity and the number of arrests and cautions has plummeted, but still pockets of ignorance remain. 

    Being neighbourly is desirable and so Naturists sunbathing in their back garden will generally choose a spot that isn’t too overlooked and will often speak to neighbours who can see into their garden to advise them they may catch a glimpse of naked flesh. Anecdotal evidence and long experience shows that most neighbours couldn’t care less. It’s also not uncommon for them to say ‘Great! We do that too!’ Wearing clothes of any description during this hot weather has been uncomfortable and stripping down to nothing (whatever your mother might say) is sensible and not at all provocative. 

    So, go ahead. Strip off. Enjoy the sun and the exhilarating feeling of being naked.

    Edited by Andrew Welch

    • Like 5


    User Feedback


    david.thornber

    Posted (edited)

    This contradicts BN's own advice on the matter.

    The reality of the situation is that, while nudity is not expressly outlawed, there are certain laws that can be made to apply. You can be charged under S.5 of the Public Order Act 1986 if someone claims to have been alarmed or distressed by your nudity. There is also a possibility that you could end up with an IPNA (which replaced the ASBO) which might even prohibit you from going naked anywhere outdoors, including official clothing optional beaches. You might be offered a fixed penalty fine, which you should never accept without taking legal advice, since this will show up on criminal record searches.

    Better advice would be "Do it, cautiously." The best advice is in the BN guide that I've linked above.

    Edited by david.thornber

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