Thomas Lundy is the creator of the petition
“Sta naakt toe in het openbaar zonder beperking”
(Allow nudity in public without restriction),
where he asks the Dutch parliament to delete
article 430a of the criminal code. The article in
question is the part of the Dutch law that states
that any public nudity outside of areas where nudity is explicitly allowed will be punished with
a fine. Lundy believes that this law limits the
freedom of choice necessary for individualistic
and humanistic ideals, and therefore argues that
the freedom to choose to dress or not in public
situations should be individual, not governed by
the Dutch government.
Lundy highlights the Netherlands as a country
known worldwide for being progressive. He calls
his project the “Fifth Element”, arguing that public
nudity could join the four other social elements
that the Netherlands is famous for: the legalisation of prostitution, same-sex marriage and
euthanasia, along with the policy of tolerance for
soft drugs. There is no obvious reason for why
public nudity is still prohibited, and Lundy argues
that the prohibition stems from when the government’s laws were made for its own good, which
does not align with the Netherland’s more contemporary, progressive thinking.
He quotes the NFN, the Dutch Federation for
Naturism, for proof that only a dozen people are
fined under this law per year, which is extremely
little for a population of around 16 million inhabitants. It is such small proportion that Lundy believes the law to have completely lost its purpose,
which is why he wants it to be fully removed.
Opposers to Lundy’s petition argue that allowing
nudity will have several negative side-effects,
often claiming that nudity is inherently sexual.
Lundy on the other hand, argues that sexual nudity and public nudity are completely different, that
they are “like chalk and cheese”.
He defines sexual nudity as sexual intercourse
or a man ejaculating semen. When asked about
flashers, Lundy means that although people often
insist that flashing is related to public nudity, they
are inherently different. Flashers pick a specific
spot, hide, shock and then run, while public nudity
is a way of being. The relation between public
nudity and exhibitionism is also something
Lundy sees as misleading. When it comes down
to it, “We are all born naked”, there is nothing
inherently exhibitionist about the naked human
body. Lundy states that people who believe this
are “body-phobic people with a shame mentality”.
Being clothed can be as exhibitionist as being
naked according to Lundy, as it is about the desire
to be seen, not in what form you are seen.
Critics also tend to think that legalising public
nudity would mean that everyone would suddenly
go naked everywhere, something that could easily
create “awkward” or “embarrassing” situations.
Lundy believes this can be avoided with
“house rules within buildings where nudity is
not convenient, such as restaurants or shops”,
but maintains that this does not mean that it is
necessary to keep it in the criminal code.
Furthermore, just because you have the freedom
to do something, doesn’t mean that you will,
something he accentuates with the example:
“One can walk past a coffee shop every day but
don’t have to buy or smoke marijuana.” Changing
the law for public nudity will thus not bring a
drastic change in practice but will symbolically
make a difference for humanistic ideals.
Lundy even states that forbidding public nudity
could be seen as a form of body-discrimination.
He draws parallels to how people can claim to be
offended by for example skin-color or religious
practices, and how this is seen as racism and
therefore not accepted in Dutch society.
In a similar way,
claiming to be
offended by nudity
should not be acceptable.
To exemplify this further, he brings in the religion of Digambara Jain, that is mostly practiced in
India. This religion requires its practitioners to be
naked at all times. In this case, Lundy explains
that public nudity as a practice of Digambara Jain
would be allowed in the Netherlands as it goes
against the Dutch constitution to discriminate
against religions. Therefore, he doesn’t see why
non-religious public nudity is still prohibited.
Lundy emphasises the fact that he is more
interested in the process of the petition and the
cause itself than the final result. Whether the law
is in fact successfully removed or not, does not
matter as much as whether the petition
successfully creates a conversation about this
topic and about social norms. Being what he calls
“a follower of the humanist movement”, he sees
the outcome as less important than the process
itself. He calls this the “is water wet” question, as
the Netherlands is already one of the most nudity-friendly countries on Earth.
Lundy states that the Netherlands has over 70 naturist beaches and over a thousand public saunas
where nudity is allowed. He also cites many other
examples of public nudity, in both art, TV, and
One example of this is the World Naked Bike Ride.
The WNBR is an international movement where
participants meet and together bike through cities
naked, to protest oil dependency while celebrating
both the human body and cycling.
Another example is Spencer Tunick, an American
artist who organises big art installations of naked
people whose bodies are painted. A third example
is the NTR TV show Gewoon Bloot, where clothed
children are exposed to nude adults in an
educational way, so that they can objectively
comment on human nudity. Lundy cites these and
other examples as not only proof that nudity is
not inherently sexual, but also that Dutch society
is already progressive enough to not see nudity
as a topic of taboo. Therefore public nudity does
not deserve the legislation it currently has.
Lundy believes that public nudity is still subject to
a fine because of previous social norms. However, social norms are always changing, “otherwise
women would not be allowed to wear long pants
nor vote”. He believes that the Netherlands today
is progressive enough to accept public nudity, and
encourages you to think about
“Why is the peaceful naked body punishable?”
To learn more about Thomas Lundy and his petition, please visit his petition.
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