I landed in the Spanish Naturist movement a little over ten years ago and I began to pay closer attention to the world of nudism abroad. I found out, for instance, that people took their clothes off at Spas and even in the public parks in Germany! At that time we had discussions, in the, by then, only Spanish Naturist forum on Internet, about the fact that nudity could be public as I confirmed, through research, the, up to then, imprecise knowledge, that nudity was not illegal in Spain. That was the beginning of a massive campaign in the mass media launched from the Madrid association (ADN), which started off with a two hour long nudity demonstration at Puerta de Alcalá, the very hub of Madrid. Since then, media coverage of myself and of the activities carried out by our militant members can be counted in the thousands. The FEN member associations also work in the same direction since the obligation of publicly spreading Naturism, as one more amongst our freedoms, was included in our statutes. And its WEB page has also been a cornerstone of the enlightenment of both Naturists and our society. We can say, without overstating it, that a majority of the Spanish society has been informed of the fact that nudity is one more amongst our freedoms. This illuminating endeavour is still going on, with already well known world campaigns such as the “Day w/o Bathing Suits” at any public beach. The world of journalism, be it written or audiovisual, takes this freedom for granted in the knowledge that it is not a legal void in our system of law but that it is an obvious matter of fact, which is summarised in “the inexistence of a supposed right to not see what one does not like seeing.” In the same way as we cannot be told how to dress, the freedom of others ends where ours begins.
Coming back to the Swiss case, a close look at the legal systems of other countries shows that they are not very different from ours, as mentioned in The New York Times. Mere nudity is not usually penalised as long as it is not associated with sexual offences,
(or perhaps non-sexual, for clarification purposes.) If a naked person commits a crime, that person must be punished, but not for having been naked, not even as an aggravating circumstance. The case is similar to that of racists accusing a whole racial community of the actions committed by one of them.
Where does this lead us to? We don’t have a very different legislation from that in Switzerland or other European or South-American countries and, given that “in a democracy, all is permitted which is not explicitly forbidden” (Wikipedia) holds true, the conditions should be the same for all. The difference stems from the fact that the FEN has actively hoisted that banner of freedom while other federations have limited their activities to particular ghettos, such as authorised beaches and private recreation centres.
The president of the German Federation (DFK), Kurt Fischer, was asked by a Swiss newspaper (see link) about the Alps nudists.
Mr Kurt Fischer, president of a federation in a country, Germany, Spanish naturists so much admired, “describes those hikers as neurotic and psychopaths, and declares that the freedom of a person ends where the others’ freedom is affected […] For him there is a strict rule; that is, Naturist activities must be carried out within the Naturist Centres […] Mr Fischer thinks that authorities should be rigorous towards naked hikers.” The article leads us to understand that the Swiss Naturist Union does not back those activities, either, although it does not report any of its leaders saying so.
There is no need to say that if either I or any other leader of the Spanish Naturist movement said something similar to that effect, we would not last in our posts. I am also surprised that those statements are made about another country with its own federation and about whose laws he can not be totally familiar. I understand that all the Spanish Naturists, whose associations have Naturist trekking, amongst their many other scheduled activities, would be branded neurotic and psychopaths as well, if Mr. K. Fischer were to be asked.
There are groups of people in Spain who promote nudity in city streets. Our Federation and its associations do not promote these kinds of demonstrations, but only those taking place in natural surroundings, as the INF/FNI accepted definition of Naturism spells: “in harmony with nature.” (Art.2) However, when we are asked by the media, we feel an affinity with these people and align ourselves on the side of freedom, as there is nothing unhealthy and evil in the naked human body. We would never call them names, such as psychopaths, and in the eventuality of any legal predicament they might find themselves in, the Federation and its associations stand by them. To downgrade them and demand punishment there are other groups, the radical religious, ignorant and intolerant and self righteous groups.
On the occasion of the 2006 World Congress in Spain I addressed those present with a speech entitled “The Naturist Revolution: The Right to be Nude. A Debate” (www.naturismo.org/adn/ediciones/25y/1e.htlm). In view of the public statements by the DFK president and the SNU/UNS, I conclude that this debate has not been held yet and can not be delayed any longer. Does the Naturist movement, under the INF/FNI umbrella, have the mandate to go against the freedom of those people even if we know that showing the naked body is far from being a crime? Or, alternatively, should it stand by those who, like us, freely exercise our freedom by deciding not to dress? What would Mr. Fischer think of the possible case of a black man who would give up his legal rights so as not to upset some whites? Social habits change much more slowly than the law. It is far from obvious that it had to be us who hamper any advancement from inside our Naturist movement or even worse, that we may foster a U-turn of the present laws. With friends like these, there is no need for enemies.
All the above leads us to believe that some of our federations do not question the repression of nudity, but only beg for exceptional circumstances to practice it. They follow on the same tracks insofar as repression as the rest of society! The time has come to unveil the true face of those leaders within our associations who try to tell us where and when we can and we can not practise Nudism and what is and what is not Naturism; in other words, “the retainers of the absolute truth.”
Mr. Fischer points out that “the freedom of a person ends where the others’ freedom is affected.” He forgets that freedom should entail reciprocity, as nobody can make us dress, for the simple reason we do not make anybody take off their clothes. Only through edifying campaigns nudity can cease to be thought a crime. And I firmly believe these campaigns are the main responsibility of our federations and their associations.
I would like all the Federations in the INF-workgroup forum to state their positions concerning this debate. The DFK could either confirm the above mentioned statements to the press or refute them, since they could have been just its present president’s personal opinion. I would also be delighted to see the SNU/UNS do the same.
Translated by Alberto G. Iglesias
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