Berlin’s swimming pool operator, the Berliner Bäderbetriebe (BBB), has announced that all visitors to the city’s public swimming pools are now allowed to be topless.
The decision follows legal action taken by a woman thrown out of an open-air pool for sunbathing topless and a second woman who said she was told to cover up while at an indoor pool in December.
Authorities agreed that both women were victims of discrimination and acknowledged that advocates of Freikörperkultur, or free body culture, would welcome the decision. Public nudity is considered appropriate and healthy in certain settings in Germany, but the issue of whether it is permissible at municipal swimming pools has sparked controversy.
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Last summer, Göttingen in Lower Saxony and Siegen in North Rhine Westphalia allowed women to swim topless. However, the BBB has not actually changed its rules, which state that a bathing costume must cover the genitals. The clarification simply applies to all visitors, regardless of gender.
Foreign visitors to Germany are often taken aback by the sight of naked Germans frolicking in lakes, snoring in its parks, or sweating in its saunas. While some may find it disconcerting, the decision to allow toplessness in public swimming pools is aligned with the country’s acceptance of nudity in certain settings.
Overall, the decision is a step towards greater gender equality and accepting different body types. It is also a reminder of the importance of respecting individual choices and autonomy, even in public spaces.
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