Fact check: How much nudity can it be?

When we are born, we are all the same – naked. A state of originality that many an adult longs to return to. But where is that okay, and when does it become a problem? A fact check for World Naturist Day on June 5th.

Claim: I can be naked at home.

Facts: Is correct! Within your own four walls, you can take off your clothes as you please. According to experts, this usually also applies outside on your own balcony or terrace. But there are exceptions: If the terrace and garden are completely visible and neighbors feel disturbed by sunbathing without clothing, Section 118 of the Law on Administrative Offenses (OWiG) can apply, as lawyer Swen Walentowski explains. Accordingly, too much bare skin can constitute a “nuisance to the general public” and thus an administrative offence.

Naturists are particularly badly handed if their garden, terrace or balcony is “near a playground, daycare center, school or church facility, or if their behavior is particularly conspicuous – or if they are intended to be provocative,” explains Walentowski.

In an apartment building, too much nudity can even lead to the termination of the tenancy. “In practice, however, this is rather unlikely,” says Walentowski. It’s different when you’re having sexual pleasure. “Sex on the balcony can result in termination of the apartment,” warns the lawyer.

Claim: When I go out, I can always be naked.

Facts: Not correct! Although public nudity is not illegal in Germany, “usually you can only be naked in designated places,” explains the lawyer. For example on the nudist beach. On the other hand, anyone who walks through a shopping center unclothed or sunbathes stark naked in the city park risks a fine under the Administrative Offenses Act. That can be between 5 and 1000 euros. Before that, however, a dismissal is usually pronounced. In the shopping center, the owner’s domiciliary rights also apply, and the security service can issue a house ban.

Public nudity becomes relevant under criminal law when it crosses the line into exhibitionism. This is the case when someone exposes themselves for the sake of sexual pleasure. In this case, according to Section 183 of the Criminal Code (StGB), a fine or imprisonment of up to one year can be expected. The StGB refers here to exhibitionist acts by men. Conversely, according to Walentowski, this means: “Women cannot be prosecuted in this context.”

Exactly the opposite is the case when swimming or sunbathing topless. While there is little reason for men to hide their nipples, women’s bare breasts are often still taboo. In the swimming pools in Göttingen, for example, new rules apply for the time being: everyone is allowed to pull bare on top until the end of August – at least on the weekends.

Claim: Driving naked is no problem.

Facts: Is correct! There is no law in Germany that prohibits driving naked. If you want to sit behind the wheel without shoes, you can be held responsible in the event of an accident. For example, if the driver slips off the pedal and the accident cannot be avoided due to missing shoes. There are no discussions if the car is moved professionally. Paragraph 44 of the accident prevention regulations for vehicles clearly stipulates that “footwear that encloses the foot” should be worn.

When driving a car, the following also applies: If you get out naked, you could be a nuisance to the general public – comparable to a naked pedestrian, as lawyer Walentowski explains. If someone feels disturbed, a fine can result.

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