BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Monday, 24 April, 2000, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Australian police arrest nudists
Nudists on Queensland beach
In the past police have turned a blind eye to nudist events (picture courtesy of Free Beach Assoc.)
Swimmers at beaches in Queensland, Australia could be in for a rude shock next time they decide to strip off and hit the surf for a spot of skinny dipping.

Police have arrested dozens of nude sunbathers this week in a crackdown to enforce public decency laws.

Queensland is the only Australian state in which nude sunbathing is still illegal.

Naturists and sunbathers have complained about the police's heavy-handed approach, which has apparently included a rather unusual 'undercover' operation.

Agents provocateurs

Outraged nudists have accused male and female police officers of patrolling beaches dressed in the bare minimum, in some cases acting as 'agents provacateurs' they say.

"You're lying there and suddenly this guy in Speedos pops out of the bushes and arrests you" one sunbather complained to Britain's The Independent newspaper.

The Sunshine Coast is lobbying for a change in the law

The paper reports that 40 people have been arrested and charged with offences ranging from acting in an indecent manner to wilful exposure.

Even clothed sunbathers have been warned by officers not reveal any more flesh.

Les Rootsey, editor of the Gold Coast nudist magazine The Australian Naturist, told the BBC that illegal nude sunbathing is quite extensive in Queensland due to the pleasant climate.

"It's becoming an accepted way of enjoying the wonderful beaches across Australia" he said.

"Most skinny dippers will continue to flout the law and take the risk" he said. "Those who are afraid of being fined tend to go to private resorts".

Nude laws

Public nudity was banned in Queensland under the 1931 Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act.

Police have defended their actions, saying they are merely upholding the law.
Nude sunbather
Nudists say they're just doing what comes naturally

The Free Beach Association of Queensland has been lobbying the government for a change in the law since 1988.

It wants local government authorities to nominate sections of public beaches where people may legally swim and sunbathe nude.

Les Rootsey says a change in legislation may be introduced later this year.

In the meantime naked snorkellers, bush walkers and sun worshippers will have to confine themselves to nudist clubs if they want to avoid an embarrassing arrest.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Asia-Pacific Contents

Country profiles
See also:

04 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tempers flare in surfers' paradise
23 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Beach bums banned from Bondi
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories