Berlin swimming pools will allow women to swim topless


Berlin authorities want it to be very clear: Women are free to swim topless in municipal pools, as are those who identify as non-binary, if that’s what they want.

Topless swimming in public pools was not banned in the German capital anyway, but a woman recently lodged a complaint alleging discrimination after a pool prevented her from swimming without a chest covering, a restriction that was not applied to male swimmers.

The city and its public swimming pool operator will now ensure that men and women are treated equally when it comes to topless swimming, the Berlin state government said in a statement on Thursday. Press release.

The statement noted that the pools had no “gender-specific rules” and simply specified that standard swimwear should be worn. Although the rules list swim shorts, bikinis, bathing suits, and burkinis as acceptable clothing, they don’t specify who should wear what.

Germans “are generally quite relaxed about” nudity, Keon West, a professor of social psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, who has conducted studies on nudity and body image, previously told the Washington Post. Nudity, also known as “free body culture”, is not considered sexual.

The head of the city’s ombudsman’s office for equality and anti-discrimination, Doris Liebscher, welcomed the decision of the operator of Berlin’s public swimming pools to apply the rules in the same way. This decision, she said in a statement, “establishes equal rights for all Berliners, whether male, female or non-binary, and because it also creates legal certainty for [pool] staff.”

According to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, there have been two recent cases where topless women have been ordered to leave public swimming pools. In December, pool staff told a 33-year-old woman to cover her breasts and kicked her out when she refused. A similar incident took place in a water park in Berlin in the summer of 2021: while the ombudsman’s office concluded that the incident was discriminatory, a court ruled against financial compensation.

Some cities outside the capital have also allowed topless swimming for everyone. Last year, Göttingen in central Germany conducted a trial to allow all swimmers to enter municipal swimming pools topless, before finally adopting the new rules. The changes came after an establishment banned a swimmer, who identified as non-binary and had entered a swimming pool topless, from entering the premises, according to German magazine Der Spiegel.

Naked swimming brawl marks return of pre-coronavirus banalities in Europe

There are more than 130 naturist clubs in Germany, according to a German association promoting free body culture, and the prevalence of public nudity also caught global attention in 2020, when viral photos captured the moment a bather naked in Berlin hunted a boar. who stole his laptop.

Attitudes and rules regarding toplessness vary widely from country to country – or, in the case of the United States, even state to state. In 2019, a Utah woman was prosecuted and told she might have to register as a sex offender after her stepchildren saw her topless in her home. Her attorneys, however, noted that the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit overturned a topless ban in Colorado that same year.

Meanwhile, in 2020, a federal judge ruled that popular Maryland beach destination Ocean City could continue to ban women from going topless in public, noting that “female but not male breasts” were “traditionally considered erogenous zones”.

Attitudes have also changed over time. In the 1930s, most states in the United States did not allow men to go shirtless anywhere, a ban that also sparked several protests at swimming pools and beaches.

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