ECHR tells serial nudist that public nudity is not a human right


The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that a British man’s rights were not being violated after he was arrested over 30 times for public nudity.

Fifty-four year-old Stephen Gough, dubbed the “Naked Rambler”, was repeatedly arrested for going on a naked trek from northern England and across the Scottish border.

The court found that Gough’s “imprisonment was the consequence of his repeated violation of the criminal law, in full knowledge of the consequences, through conduct which went against the standards of accepted public behaviour in any modern democratic society but also is liable to be alarming and morally and otherwise offensive to other, unwarned members of the public going about their ordinary business.”

The court decided that although Gough’s multiple arrests and imprisonment “undoubtedly did entail serious consequences for him”, Scottish authorities did not violate his human rights by arresting him.

Stephen Gough (photo: PA)

“He was also under a duty, particularly in light of the fact that he was asking for tolerance in respect of his own conduct, to demonstrate tolerance of and sensibility to the views of other members of the public,” the court said.“However, the applicant appears to reject any suggestion that acceptance of public nudity may vary depending on the nature of the location and the presence of other members of the public.”

“Without any demonstration of sensibility to the views of others and the behaviour that they might consider offensive, he insists upon his right to appear naked at all times and in all places, including in the courts, in the communal areas of prisons and on aeroplanes,” added the statement.

Stephen Gough (photo: PA)

Gough described the court’s decision as “a disappointment”.

“I expected them to take the wider view. They have not,” he said. “Then again, what great endeavour ever succeeded without having to surmount many obstacles that stood in its way? Why should it be any different for me? I have no choice but to continue.”

“How can nature expressed in human form be indecent? How can any sane person be offended at seeing the human body? Yet it is these absurd beliefs that form the underlying assumptions of the countless criminal charges and convictions against me, resulting in over nine years in solitary confinement in British prisons,” he added.