Looking For Loopholes

The  nudist/naturist cause is always looking for loopholes in the legal fabric of the various countries of the modern western world in hopes of asserting a legal right to be naked. The truth is that most places have no laws on the books preventing people from being naked. In some places nudity and/or partial nudity is legalized. For example, in Canada, it is now on the books that women have the legal right to go topless. One would think that this should make Canada a must visit destination, at least in the summertime for many women who would then not have to worry about finding themselves in some foreign court facing a fine, or in worst case scenarios, jail time. But, law or no law, women don’t go topless in Canada. The social mores weigh heavier than any small print in a law book. Women in Canada know that. In fact, the women who sought the right to be equal before the law when it comes to going topless, are satisfied with the law – a point made and won – but have no intention in going topless in their home country where friends, neighbours, extended family or heaven forbid, employers and church clergy would then see their breasts. The reality is, women are hard on other women who go bare-breasted. Just ask any daring woman who has tried to breast feed her baby where others might see. Not a pretty sight, the anger against publically breast-feeding mothers.

Nudity isn’t illegal in Canada with the exceptions of some obvious situations of exhibitionism, flashing or sexual acts in the public eye. We can thank one of our former Prime Ministers for telling courts that they had no business in the public morality business as that was the domain of the church. Yet, I doubt that there is an instance where one is not in some level of legal trouble in daring to be nude. If nudity in your own back yard is offensive to someone who passes by and looks over the fence, even if that looking over the fence requires some effort, then one can be prosecuted by causing a disturbance or disquiet in the viewer. I asked my brother, who has just recently retired from the national police force why the refusal to honour an individual’s right to nudity in their back yard, in a secluded natural area, or even in one’s home. His answer is that if anyone is disturbed by the nudity, it is the disturbance of that person’s peace that is the legal loophole for charges to be laid. I then asked what if there is no public being disturbed and an officer comes across a nude citizen in the wilderness on a rarely used trail. His response was to tell me the laws have now allowed police officers to be disturbed by nudity as well. Legal rights to nudity have no weight in Canada.

Another good example is the idea that one should not go nude in the house where any passer could potentially see you nude in your house. Draw the curtains is the rule. My home has a good sized front window. During the day time it is like a mirror much to the distress of a number of birds who have suffered concussions and even death because they didn’t see the interior but only a reflection of the outer world. I often check to see if this reflective quality continues to be the case. In all situations, one almost has to press their nose against the window to get past the reflection to see the interior of the living room. Yet should I choose to be naked in my living room in spite of the reflective quality of the glass and a passing person gets curious and leans in to see what is going on, the shock and disturbance of my nudity upon that person would outweigh my right to be nude in my home. I am responsible even though the offended person has acted as a peeping tom.

Canadians do have the right to be nude in their homes. But just in case, lock the doors and cover all the windows. For nudity is not about laws or rights. The rights of the society are paramount, even when the societal rights are based on the lack of logic. Rights belong to the majority and our modern western world is suffering a bad case of revoking the rights of individuals and minorities.

One thought on “Looking For Loopholes

  1. Certain unnamed Canadian political parties have taken to populism and encouraged the tyranny of the majority mindset when it comes to rights and the law. To date there is still considerable tension between protecting individual and minority rights Vs majority sentiment trumping established rights.

    However, with respect to nudity, Section 174 of the Criminal Code of Canada is pretty clear that nudity is verboten as you say in your post. The one twist on it is that the the Attorney General of Canada is required to sign off before proceeding.

    “Marginal note:Consent of Attorney General

    (3) No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General.”

    There is a potential for a politicized decision to proceed, however, it has generally been used to filter out the kinds of home or backyard incidental exposures that you discuss. Certainly, if an individual were to repeatedly stand brazenly in their front room picture window just because technically they were in their home would not protect them from being charged and if the behaviour were blatant and repeated the Attorney General would likely consent.

    The other issue of how much effort the observer went to in order to be “offended” is another factor that would in all likelihood influence the Attorney General’s decision to proceed or not.

    However, the beat cop may or may not arrest or summons the individual. The strict interpretation of the law would suggest arrest or summons and the police officer lets the Attorney General make the call.

    I personally do not believe that public nudity, such as with female top-free “rights”, will ever become a “right”. I am not sure it ever should be included in fundamental human rights like race, gender, religion, etc. as currently specified in human rights legislation. I realize that in some other foreign jurisdictions -very few- public nudity is legal.

    I do think that the question as to whether public nudity, nudity on one’s own property or in one’s home but visible to the general public should be dealt with in the provincial civil codes, or municipal by-laws, and not the federal criminal code. The real potential for a life long criminal record and serious jail time for being naked is indicative of a social order and abject fear of nudity more fitting of previous centuries rather than modern times. However, the likelihood of significant changes to the actual law are zero.

    In practice things are bit more flexible but not much.


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