|Canadian Laws &
Letters to Officials
This information was provided by David Basford,
past President of the Federation of Canadian Naturists.
=============================================================== Part 1 The Canadian Criminal Code pertaining to Nudity Section 173 (extract) (1) Every one who wilfully does an indecent act (a) in a public place in the presence of one or more persons, or (b) in any place, with intent thereby to insult or offend any person, is guilty of an offense punishable on summary conviction. (2) Every person who, in any place, for a sexual purpose, exposes his or her genital organs to a person who is under the age of fourteen years is guilty of an offense punishable on summary conviction. Sunbathing - Mere nude sunbathing is not of sufficient moral turpitude to support a charge for doing an indecent act. (Beaupre(1971)) British Columbia Supreme Court "Wilfully" means "deliberate" or "intentional" as opposed to "accidental" or "inadvertent" and it is not further necessary to show that the accused knew and intended to perform the indecent act in the sight of others. (Miceli(1977)) Ontario Provincial Court Section 174 (extract) (1) Every one who, without lawful excuse, (a) is nude in a public place, or (b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property...is guilty of an offence... (2) For the purpose of this section, a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order. (3) No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General. Under "Annotations", it is also stated: "This offence is not aimed at conduct such as swimming nude at an isolated beach, even where the accused misjudges the loneliness of the beach." (R.v. Benolkin et al., 1977) =============================================================== Part 2 An Appeal to all Canadian and North American Nudists/Naturists ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The FCN, with the support of other North American organizations (FQN, WCANR, TNS, NAC, AANR) sent a letter in 1998 to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Allan Rock requesting changes to Section 174 of the Canadian Criminal Code (CCC), to better reflect present day attitudes of a more-enlightened society towards nudity in the context of nudist /naturist recreation and lifestyle. But, to be effective, it is vital that individual nudists write to the Minister. We need letters from as many nudists as possible, Canadians, visitors, and from all who care about naturist freedoms in Canada. To facilitate this, we are suggesting a few points you may wish to include in your letter: * Few people in a our society today are shocked or harmed by seeing nude swimming and sunbathing on a beach. * It is insulting to women to suggest that the sight of their bare breasts could cause "harm". To do so reflects a confused and out-moded attitude. * More Canadians and North Americans than ever have experienced being on "nude" beaches in Europe and the Caribbean. Many want to know why they cannot enjoy the same freedom here. As a country respected for its tolerance, surely Canada can be more accepting of beach nudity, and follow its BC Wreck Beach lead. * Public nudity in several European countries such as Denmark, Germany and Holland is not treated as a criminal offence. Rather it is allowed or not according to the circumstances in which it occurs, and whether it shows consideration towards others. * Present Canadian law indicates that it is not an offence to be nude on an "isolated" beach. Yet this suggests that when nude, a person is no longer fit to be seen, and should be separated from others - a most prejudicial point of view. * Nude people on a beach or in the back garden at home, are no different from those who prefer clothing. It is not acceptable that they should be made to feel as if being nude for sunbathing or swimming is somehow immoral or even criminal. * For many, women especially, body acceptance is very difficult. Nudism helps people feel better about their bodies, and helps enhance self- esteem. The human body deserves to be respected both for its beauty and its so-called "imperfections". * We live in times of great stress. Nude relaxation and recreation is known to be one of the most effective antidotes to this stress. * "Body acceptance is the idea - nude recreation is the way". Please speak up! Silence is tantamount to surrendering to those who would impose their repressed moral standards on us! This could, on the other hand, be the best opportunity for us to make a real advance in the acceptance and practice of Naturism in Canada. Thank you for supporting our beloved and cherished lifestyle. Federation of Canadian Naturists =============================================================== Part 3 The Honorable Ms. Anne McLellan Minister of Justice, 323 West Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6 28 July, 1997 Dear Ms. McLellan, In relation to the uncertainties arising from the Ontario "topless" issue, I am writing to you as President of Canada's national nudist organization, the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN), and with the support of La Federation Quebecoise de Naturisme (FQN), the Western Canadian Association for Nude Recreation, the US-based Naturist Society, and the International Naturist Federation , together representing hundreds of thousands of nudists. The purpose of this letter is to communicate the deep concerns of many thousands of naturists across Canada about the implications of any changes in the Canadian Criminal Code (as may be requested by the Ontario Attorney General, Mr. Charles Harnick), relative to those sections pertaining to public nudity. The naturist/nudist movement arose out of a philosophy based on humanist ideals. "Naturism"/ "Nudism" has been defined as "a way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging self- respect, respect for others, and care for the environment." In this context, nudity is non-sexual and non-commercial. It is practiced under circumstances for which it is appropriate, such as swimming and sunbathing. Furthermore, many studies have demonstrated both the physical and psychological benefits of the "naturist lifestyle". Naturism in Canada is practiced in nudist clubs, on a few officially-sanctioned "clothing-optional" beaches (such as the world renowned Wreck Beach, Vancouver), and on many quiet lake and river sides across Canada. The peaceful, family-oriented atmosphere of the nearly fifty Canadian nudist /naturist clubs. provides a valuable respite from the stresses of everyday life. Children who have grown up in the naturist environment tend to have healthier attitudes toward their bodies and have better self- esteem. In addition, Canadian nudist clubs attract thousands of visitors every year, thus contributing to the tourism industry, and to the local economy through taxes and employment. We respectfully urge you not to remove or alter Section 174 (3) of the Canadian Criminal Code ("No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General".). To do so would make it easier for criminal charges to be inappropriately brought against any person nude to public view, whether on a clothing- optional beach or even at a nudist club. We feel strongly that proper consideration by the Attorney General with regard to circumstances should remain a requirement in any situation where criminal charges have been brought under the section. We feel, both as naturists and as part of Canadian society, that it is unacceptable that a woman who bares her breasts, or indeed that a person who is totally nude, for such activities as swimming and sunbathing on a quiet beach, should be in fear of being charged under the Canadian Criminal Code. Further, we feel it to be equally unacceptable that naturists who respect the spirit of Sections 173 and 174, should be harassed by local officials / bylaws that treat them (naturists) as "undesirables". The vast majority of those who enjoy nude or semi-nude relaxation, are ordinary, law-abiding citizens, sensitive to the feelings of others and respectful of what is appropriate with regard to time and place. Nudists are not exhibitionists, but neither do they believe they should be ashamed of their bodies, nor that the sight of the nude human body is a cause of potential "harm". Many of Canada's visitors come from countries such as Denmark, Germany and Holland, where "toplessness" and total nudity on beaches, in quiet park areas, and in home back gardens is considered normal and appropriate. They find it surprising that in Canada, a country associated with tolerance, they must either be hidden in isolated areas, or be denied the simple pleasure of naturism. With the demographics of our country, and more demands being made for clothing-optional recreation, the FCN believes that provincial Attorneys General will have to take a position on the issue of designating clothing-optional beaches and other naturist recreational public areas. Delegates of the FCN would be pleased to meet with you or your representatives at your convenience, for we believe that any consideration being given to changing the CCC should be done with full public input, and that an in-person meeting would be a good first step in that process. Yours sincerely, David Basford President, Federation of Canadian Naturists President FQN-FCN Union Judy Williams Public Relations, Federation of Canadian Naturists Member of The Naturist Society - Naturist Action Committee Chairperson, Wreck Beach Preservation Society, Vancouver, BC cc. 1. Directors and members of the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) P.O. Box 186, Islington, Ontario, M9A 4X2 2. Robert Richer, President La Federation Quebecoise de Naturisme (FQN) 4545 Pierre-de-Coubertin, C.P.1000, Succursale M, Montreal, Qu=82bec, H1V 3R2 3. Bob Migliore, President The Western Association for Nude Recreation (WCANR) P.O.Box 1113, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2K9 4. Lee Baxandall, The Naturist Society, President Shirley Mason, The Naturist Action Committee, Chairperson Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54902, USA 5. Karl Dressen, President The International Naturist Federation, Antwerp, Belgium (INF) St. Hubertusstraat 5, B-2600 Antwerp, Belgium The FCN and FQN have a membership of more than 3000 naturists mainly in Quebec and central Canada. They are affiliated to the International Naturist Federation through the FQN-FCN Union. The WCANR has more than 1500 members, mainly in western Canada It is affiliated with the American Association for Nude Recreation, which has total a membership of over 40,000. The Naturist Society, with nearly 20,000 members has supported the use of clothing-optional beaches both in the United States and in Canada. The Naturist Action Committee actively devotes itself to the protection of these areas for the benefit of all naturists. The International Naturist Federation was founded in 1952 in France, with the major goal of encouraging naturism and naturist organizations world-wide. Based in Antwerp, Belgium, its members are the national naturist federations from 30 countries representing more than 300,000 naturists. It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 club- member nudists in Canada, and more than 50,000 occasional non- club nudists. These numbers are but a fraction of the many ordinary people who regularly swim and sunbathe nude in hundreds of quiet, secluded areas. =============================================================== Part 4 The Honorable Mr. Mike Harris Premier of Ontario, Room 281, Legislative Building, Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1 28 July, 1997 Dear Mr. Harris, I am writing to you in my capacity as president of the Federation of Canadian Naturists, representing, with our sister organizations in Quebec and Western Canada, many tens of thousands of nudists. As part of the International Naturist Federation, we represent Canadian naturism/nudism to hundreds of thousands of nudists world-wide. We understand that, in response to the "topless" situation in Ontario, a request may be made by the Ontario Attorney-General, Mr. Charles Harnick, to the Federal Justice Minister, Ms. Anne McLellan, to change the relevant sections of the Canadian Criminal Code. We ask that changes not be made which would seek to criminalize innocent nudity as practiced by naturists/nudists on some beaches, and other quiet recreational areas. Our letter to Ms. McLellan is enclosed. With particular regard to "toplessness", it must be emphasized that the issue is primarily one of allowing women to have the same right as do men, to make their own decision to wear or not to wear a top. The fact is that the great majority of both women and men understand and respect what is appropriate for the time and place, and are not about to start parading semi-nude through our towns. As evidence of this, we include a letter from Mr. Morley Schloss of Rochester, NY., a representative of the New York State Coalition for Topfree Equality. He confirms the experience of other countries where top-free equality has been granted: that women have not walked around the streets without shirts, but have exercised their right sensibly, in such places as in their backyards and on some beaches. Similarly, in several European countries (Denmark, Holland) where the equal right to be "topless" has long been acknowledged, and beach nudity/seminudity is common, the sight of women or men in town streets without a top is rare. Far from some commonly held ideas, nudity as practiced by naturists/ nudists is in the context of a philosophy of accepting our whole selves as part of natural creation. Naturism/nudism is based on humanistic ideals: it has been defined as "a way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, encouraging self-respect, respect for others, and care for the environment." Such nudity is non-sexual and non-commercial, but is practiced under circumstances for which it is appropriate, such as swimming and sunbathing. The vast majority of naturists/nudists are not exhibitionists and do not condone overt sexual behaviour. They are ordinary, law-abiding, citizens, sensitive to the feelings of others, merely wishing to enjoy their holiday relaxation on the beaches quietly, and in the way they find most natural. We understand and respect that in Canada, as compared to some European countries, nudity on public beaches is unfamiliar and even offensive to some. Yet it is a growing trend, and an increasing number of naturists/nudists feel that "clothing- optional" beaches, designated by appropriate signs, should be established in Ontario. The example of the well known Wreck Beach in Vancouver has shown how successful this can be. Naturists have typically taken responsibility for the cleanliness of their beaches, and the good behaviour of those who use them. We suggest that such beaches be established, preferably in co-operation with a recognized nudist group (such as a Federation of Canadian Naturists affiliated naturist club). Finally, may we appeal to you not to allow vocal groups with extreme views to manipulate our laws in an attempt to control those with whom they disagree. Sincerely, David Basford President, Federation of Canadian Naturists, Director, Topfree Equal Rights Association Judy Williams Public Relations, Federation of Canadian Naturists, Chairperson, Wreck Beach Preservation Society, Topfree Equal Rights Association, special advisor
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