Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Want to Hike the Alps Naked? Okay, That's Fine.
A Swiss man saw his $87 fine lifted after he was "caught" hiking naked last week. The Swiss courts respected his rights, and it has brought out naked hikers from around the world. Who knew this was an international hobby?
The decision was hailed by supporters as a "victory of freedom." It has also sparked local debate on crisscrossing mountain paths in the nude, putting naked hikers in the spotlight as they enthusiastically fight for the cause.
"This court decision is showing that penal law is not a moral codex, and there's no way to punish nakedness in itself, unless it becomes sexual harassment," a Zurich, Switzerland, architect and naked hiker who represented the defendant explained to AOL News. The architect asked not to be identified, citing privacy reasons.
The Appenzell court ruled that the charge of indecent behavior did not apply in the case of the fined hiker. He was reported to authorities by a woman after walking past a communal barbecue area.
"Sometimes, police think that hiking, jogging or biking in the nude is something that goes under that [law] paragraph, and they fine people. The interpretation of the law is open-ended," Kettiger told AOL News. "If someone is nude walking in public, or sunbathing or having a picnic in the grass, that is not forbidden. If he is exposing himself, with a sexual connotation and offending common sense, that is forbidden."
Naked hikers, who are estimated to number a few dozen in Switzerland, say they enjoy the feeling of oneness with nature and the freedom to give up clothes.
Arguments against naked hiking range from concerns that nudity could be offensive for some to more down-to-earth problems, such as the risk of sunburn or catching tick-borne diseases. Some argue that restricted areas, as with nudist beaches around the world, could be organized for hikers.
However, the architect who represented the defendant said the point is not to be surrounded by fellow naked people. They don't want to be restricted to certain areas, either.