A NEW rule in Germany means women in Berlin will soon be allowed to go topless at the city’s public swimming pools in order to prevent “discrimination”. Would this work in Scotland?


Topless swimming?

The Berlin state government announced on Thursday that new rules have been put in place to allow everyone to swim topless if they so wish.



Men were always able to do so and now women can follow suit in a change that comes in the wake of a complaint over discrimination by a woman who was not allowed to go topless in a swimming pool in the German capital. Her identity has not yet been revealed but she contacted the local government’s ombudsperson’s office for equality to demand that women be able to not cover their torsos while swimming.


Was it just her complaint?

It has been reported that other women who went topless at Berlin pools were asked to cover themselves or to leave the pool, and were sometimes banned from returning, with the complaint lodged against that background.


As a result…?

The Berliner Baederbetriebe, which is in charge of the city’s public pools, decided to change its clothing rules as a result of the complaint in a ruling it said ensured “equal rights for all Berliners”. Doris Liebscher, the head of the ombudsperson’s office, told the Associated Press: “The ombudsperson’s office very much welcomes the decision of the Baederbetriebe, because it establishes equal rights for all Berliners, whether male, female or non-binary, and because it also creates legal certainty for the staff at the Baederbetriebe. Now it is important that the regulation is applied consistently and that no more expulsions or house bans are issued.”


It’s well trodden water?

In Germany, yes, as last May, the city of Göttingen in Lower Saxony became the first in Germany to allow bathers to swim topless in their public pools at weekends during the summer in what it also said was a step toward gender equality. The ruling came after an incident in 2021 where a swimmer - who identified as male - was banned from a Göttingen pool after refusing to cover their chest.



Last June, public pools in Siegen in North Rhine Westphalia opened up to topless swimmers, but later in the year, a spokeswoman for the city revealed women made "almost no use at all" of the new option. She also revealed the municipality had received “a large number of complaints, insults, threats by email, letter, phone calls” over the ruling.



In Barcelona, women have been able to swim topless in city pools since 2019 after a similar complaint over equality concerns by campaign group “Mugrons Lliures” or “Free Nipples”. The same ruling came into force in Catalan last year in response to accusations of “double gender standards”. A regional government spokeswoman said: “Women should have the right to freedom of expression with their bodies.”


What about on home shores?

“Taps aff” is a well kent phrase, although it usually refers to Scots men who whip their shirts off at the first glimpse of sun, but in this age of equality, who knows if this could soon apply to all?