Enforced nudity in a Spanish holiday home complex was wrong, court rules


A holiday apartment complex in Spain had strict rules about nudity in public areas – it was mandatory, and there were even security guards in place to make sure no one was allowed into the pool and gardens wearing clothes.

But not everyone was happy – and a row over the regulations led to drama at the homeowners’ association, and lawsuits that went all the way up to the Supreme Court in Spain.

The house owners association of the complex passed the rules, widely named in the local media as the Natura World apartment in Vera, Almeria. According to the regional tourism website, the private complex is “on the beach in the most visited nature/nudist area in Spain,” with direct access to the nudist beach. Eighty percent of Natura World families are nudist, reports the Spanish ABC outlet.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court made its decision, ruling that the enforcement of nudity in public areas violated the complex’s fundamental rights of residents.

The court said two lower courts were wrong in their findings that the home owners association bylaws on nudity in public areas of the resort complex were passed unanimously.

“A simple reading of the minutes of the community meeting clearly shows that those statutes were not approved, and that the judgment given in previous proceedings did not address this issue,” the Supreme Court’s decision said.

In this light, the Supreme Court found that the nudity requirement discriminated against residents who wanted to remain clothed, and that it violated their freedom of movement and their right to privacy in the public areas they also co-owned.

Nudity is “a truly respectable and legitimate personal choice,” the ruling said, “but its practice cannot be claimed without foundation.”

In particular, the court said that the plaintiffs could not be prevented “arbitrarily, by forceful actions, by hiring private security services” from using the shared facilities.

“From the first day, they told us that everyone could go as they want and there was never any talk that it was his duty to bathe naked,” Mari Carmen Jiménez, one of the plaintiffs, told the newspaper Spanish El País. “What we are suffering is terrible; it’s very difficult not to have access to your pool.”

The court awarded each plaintiff 1,000 euros (about $1,070) for “moral damages”.

Keon West, professor of social psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, who has studied exposure and body image, says that he has found a wide variation in attitudes towards nudity in different countries.

“You have Germans who are generally relaxed about it,” he said in an interview, compared to Americans who tend to have a more sexualized view of nudity.

Spanish attitudes towards nudity also tend to be fairly relaxed, he said.

The nude “The Spanish beach is right next to the clothed one and you share the same showers. It’s clearly treated as another way of life, not something that inherently needs to be hidden or something you should be ashamed of, or dangerous to society,” he said.

According to Reuters news agency, public nudity has been legal in Spain since 1988, although some regions have their own rules. Earlier this month, a court rejected a fine issued to a man who walked naked down the streets in Aldaia, Valencia – but noted the “legal vacuum” of naturism in the country.

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