Blokes baring all at Ladies’ Beach show our indecency laws have become bollocks

The law doesn't cover this carry-on too clearly.

Naturism is among the topics covered – or uncovered, if you prefer – by newzealandAtoZ.com.

The travel guide says New Zealand has naturist clubs nationwide “which welcome new members and their families into a safe, healthy and relaxed environment”.

Alf’s church does that too, actually.

But it seems New Zealand has around 11 recognised nudist beaches, a nugget of information which had the somewhat prim and proper Mrs Grumble choking on her cornflakes this morning.

For the purposes of this post, however, the important point is that Ladies’ Bay is not on newzealandAtoZ.com’s list of nudist beaches in the Auckland area.

Nudists are steered, rather to Pohutukawa Bay, Little Palm Beach and Orpheus Bay.

Alf is delighted to report that no beaches are listed in the Eketahuna area.

Another outfit, Free Beaches New Zealand Inc, boasts of aiming at enjoyment, responsibility, solidarity with others of like mind, and the promotion of naturism in healthy activities as well as the protection of the rights of skinny-dippers and beach naturists.

Free Beaches New Zealand Inc is the society which exists in order to defend the rights of skinnydippers, beach naturists and all people young and old, who love to “go natural” in the great outdoors. Wearing wet togs is unpleasant and unhygienic. Young children love to run around naked. So do you, and we defend your right to do so, without giving offence to others.

But hey.

When it comes to Ladies Bay in Auckland, the news is grim.

The organisation reports –

Next to St Leonards on the North Shore, Ladies Bay used to be probably the most popular of the Auckland urban options. (Despite a council-built viewing platform over the beach, now much shortened.)

Of great concern to genuine Naturists is the serious, and warranted; reputation for bad behaviour there, due to the combination of an aggressive local person promoting the place as ‘adult'(!) and inadequate policing of this person’s activity over the last few years. No longer recommended!

Alf mentions this deterioration in decency standards after learning that tourists have been upset by prancing nudists at Ladies’ Bay.

Tourists and visitors to one of Auckland’s most popular beach areas say the sight of naked beachgoers there is “gross” and “offensive”.

They want the Auckland Council to put up signs warning visitors of nude swimmers at Ladies Bay in St Heliers, who they say are “shocking little children”.

One of the complainants is a John Stokes, from Wellington, who went swimming at the beach with his partner while on holiday on Christmas Eve.

He said he was confronted with naked men whom he described as “prancing exhibitionists, offensively strutting their stuff”.

“I am no prude, but I do not wish to have this exhibitionism inflicted upon me or my children,” Mr Stokes said in a letter to the Herald.

“If there were a council sign, I would have no one else to blame but myself. [But] there was no sign.”

A Chinese tourist Zhang Ke-Wen, reportedly was taken to the Achilles Pt lookout overlooking Ladies Bay as part of his tour.

Children from his tour group apparently strolled to the bay, only to be intimidated by two naked sunbathers.

“The children couldn’t believe what they were seeing, because people don’t do this sort of thing on Chinese public beaches,” Mr Zhang said.

So what did they do?

Ran for safety, you might imagine.

But no.

“They went for a closer look, and two of the men started chasing them while holding up their exposed genitals. It was gross.”

This Zhang feller suggested the council put up a multi-lingual sign warning of nudity, in light of the beach being a popular tourist spot.

In recent years, the Herald reports, more than 80 per cent of the naked bathers at Ladies Bay have been male.

Alf wonders how those statistics are tallied, and who does the head count – or tail count.

Anyway, the beach is not officially designated as a nudist beach.

And here’s the thing: a spokesman said the council sympathised with the complainants, but it would not be putting up signs.

“Indecent exposure is an offence, and unfortunately signs would imply official or tacit endorsement of it,” he said. “To deter nudity, the council and police do patrol beaches such as Ladies Bay.”

But the policing doesn’t seem to be up to much, because local residents have complained that nudists’ brazen daylight antics, including public sex acts and flashing their genitals, are destroying the area.

The law, perhaps, is not up to much, either.

Another website says a number of New Zealand beaches have been frequented over the years by naturists and skinny dippers; these “have customary nude status” and will not attract undue attention from the prudish or nude-averse community.

It advises

… because New Zealand has no laws directly forbidding public nudity, those of us who wish to bath nude on our beaches are free to do so if we show respect and are discrete and mindful of others when swimming or bathing naturally.

Much more troubling for Alf was what he learned about public nakedness in New Zealand law.

First: there is no statute prohibiting nakedness in public. In cases of ‘public nakedness’ the police go to the Summary Offences Act 1981 and consider:-

• S27 Obscene/Indecent exposure

Obscenity requires some element of lewdness or lasciviousness, so this charge is regarded as inappropriate for a case of mere nakedness.

• S4 Offensive behaviour

The Ceramalus case of 91 (an appeal to the High Court won) determined that the legal definition of ‘offensive’ was not met by mere nakedness (even in the presence of school children), in a place where nudity was ‘not uncommon’ or ‘known to occur’.

• S4 Disorderly behaviour

The Ceramalus case of 95 (appeal to the High Court lost, appeal to the Court of Appeal declined) indicates that ‘the street’ is not a place where nakedness is known to occur.

So that’s why it cannot always be specified that you can or can’t go naked (ie: be forensically ‘disorderly’).

In your own backyard, for instance, if a neighbour decides to take offence and call the police, they may well ‘act.’ In general though, District Court judges in these cases tend to follow ‘expectation’, tested with the evidential reaction of those around.

There’s more stuff to bemuse and confuse.

In 1990 New Zealand enacted a statute to affirm recognition of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both declare the human person to have inherent dignity and worth.

That statute is the Bill of Rights Act and it raises all sorts of fascinating arguments about our right to bare our breasts and bollocks on beaches – or anywhere, come to think of it.

Alf is seriously bothered and bewildered by all this and will be taking up the matter with his colleagues.

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3 Responses to Blokes baring all at Ladies’ Beach show our indecency laws have become bollocks

  1. I support non-offensive nudity at Ladies Bay and all other beaches for that matter. However, I do not support offensive behaviour (public sexual acts) is not acceptable.
    The fact that non-offensive nudity is not an offence in NZ should be celebrated because it shows that the country values freedom of expression, social diversity and personal freedoms. This is what makes a country sophisticated and civilised.

    The article does not distinguish between non-offensive nudity (nude sunbathing) and offensive nudity (sexual acts etc). It also does not distinguish between naturists who do not go naked with the intent to offend and other naked people who do. Naturists also find certain behaviours in the nude to be offensive.

    It is sad that some people are offended by simple nudity and would like to point out to you that many people who have a problem with non-offensive nudity may have an anxiety disorder that requires treatment and not the suppression of naturism. Below is an extract from Medicinenet.com an online medical dictionary:

    “Fear of nudity: An abnormal and persistent fear of nudity is called gynophobia. Sufferers of this phobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. They may worry about seeing others naked or being seen naked, or both. Their fear may stem from anxiety about sexuality in general, from a fear that their bodies are physically inferior, or from a fear that their nakedness leaves their bodies–and their personalities–exposed and unprotected.” Source http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12395

    How else can you explain how a nuked body can be offensive? I challenge Alf to answer this question.

    To enact laws to prevent non-offensive public nudity would be a shame and a crime against human rights.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      A challenge? Ooh, Alf does like a challenge. In this case, he replies that he has no objection to nudists doing their thing at officially declared (and clearly signposted) naturist beaches. He does think our indecency laws are a load of bollocks when behaviour at a beach is so gross that (a) visitors are offended and (b) genuine naturists are advised to avoid it. Yet the authorities turn a blind eye to the offensive behaviour.

  2. Thank you for your response. So you agree then that not all nudity is offensive, for example sunbathing?

    The problem is that when you have very few designated nude beaches and most are in isolated locations where many nudists/naturist cannot use them because of the offensive behaviour of some non-naturists/nudists.

    Police consider all nudity to be offensive (I have an e-mail form the Police that confirms this) and so you have a situation where a nudist can be charged for indecent exposure if simply sunbathing in the nude even though this is legal. The Police do not protect naturist/nudists on beaches or on private property for that matter (I have an e-mail from the Police that states that I can be charged for indecent exposure if sunbathing in my garden.

    A better solution would be to allow non-offensive nudity on all beaches like it is in Denmark.

    Again, I challenge you to explain your reasoning as to why naturist/nudists should be ostracised to nude beaches when simply being naked is not offensive in itself. Why not ostracise gymnophobics to clothing only beaches in isolated loacations?

    “Human rights protect minorities of race, religion, and sex, but there is one minority that the public is attacking without regard to liberties and human rights: naturists.”

    I am a law abiding citizen who has never been in trouble with the law. I work rad and pay taxes. I am well educated and have a good job etc. I do not see why I should not be allowed to sunbath naked on any beach or any my garden for that matter.

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