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Spain Takes a Progressive Step: 'Topless' Swimming Allowed in Catalonia's Public Pools, Ending Discrimination

topless swim

In a historic decision, Catalonia, with Barcelona as its capital city, has made a groundbreaking announcement that 'topless' swimming will be permitted in all public pools this summer.

The Generalitat, the regional government, has taken the initiative by sending a letter to all municipalities, reminding them that prohibiting women from using pool facilities with bare torsos, commonly referred to as 'topless,' amounts to discrimination. Moreover, it strongly emphasized that denying access to women who opt for swimwear covering more of their bodies, such as full-body swimsuits or burkinis, is equally discriminatory. This move by Catalonia sets a significant precedent for body freedom and gender equality, encouraging inclusivity and embracing personal choices in swimwear.

In a similar decision, Berlin city authorities responded to a complaint made by a resident woman in March 2023 by granting women the right to swim topless in all city pools. This change marks a significant step towards promoting body freedom and equality in swimming facilities, as Berlin joins the ranks of cities embracing the concept of topless swimming.



This letter marks the culmination of efforts by various advocacy groups, spearheaded by Mugrons Lliures (Free Nipples), which has been fighting for years to ensure that all women have equal access to municipal pools, regardless of their attire. Approximately five years ago, the prohibition of 'topless' swimming was widespread throughout Catalonia, but these organizations successfully overturned some local ordinances.

The passage of the Equality and Non-Discrimination Act in 2020 brought about a significant change. The legislation states that prohibiting people from using facilities based on their clothing choices is a form of "discrimination." However, since municipal pools are managed by local governments, many of them have enacted regulations that contradict the law.



During the summer of 2022, the Generalitat received numerous complaints of discrimination in public pools. As a result, in March of this year, three months before the pools' opening, the Generalitat decided to send a letter to the municipalities, providing sufficient time to amend their regulations. The letter emphasized that these prohibitions "exclude a portion of the population from accessing certain services and violate each person's freedom of choice regarding their own body." Furthermore, it stated that "municipal ordinances" contradicting this principle would not be enforced.

In the same letter, the Generalitat reiterated that it is also not permissible to prohibit a woman from breastfeeding in a municipal pool or deny entry to "any ethnic group, such as racialized youth groups or Roma families."

Regarding swimwear, the guidelines specify that it must be "appropriate for aquatic activities" while ensuring hygiene and public health and, in any case, covering the genitals. Consequently, wearing street clothes for swimming remains prohibited.

This progressive step taken by Catalonia demonstrates a commitment to equality and body freedom, aligning with the principles of non-discrimination and individual autonomy. By allowing 'topless' swimming and addressing other forms of discrimination, Catalonia is fostering inclusivity and creating a more accepting environment for all individuals to enjoy public pool facilities.

In conclusion, the Generalitat's decision to permit 'topless' swimming in all public pools in Catalonia, along with its stance against discriminatory municipal regulations, marks a significant stride towards promoting equality and personal freedom. This move ensures that all individuals, regardless of their gender or clothing choices, can fully enjoy the benefits of public pool facilities in Catalonia.


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