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Free the nipple: Public pools in Catalonia must allow women to go topless, government urges

A woman floats in a swimming pool during a summer day in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016.
A woman floats in a swimming pool during a summer day in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. Copyright Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP
Copyright Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP
By Euronews Travel
Published on Updated
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The Catalan government has reminded public swimming pools that they can’t ban women from going topless.

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Public pools in Catalonia must allow women to go topless, the regional government has declared.

The right to swim without a top has been enshrined in Catalan equality law since 2020.

But several public pools continued to turn away women who exercised this right.

Now, the Catalan government's Department of Equality and Feminism has written a letter to town and city halls reminding them of their obligation to permit topless swimmers of whatever sex.

Preventing women from going topless “excludes part of the population and violates the free choice of each person with regard to their body,” the letter reads.

"Local authorities must defend against discrimination for any motive… including sex or gender, religious convictions or dress."

Pools that fail to comply with the equality law could face a €500,000 fine.

So if you’re planning on travelling to the Spanish region, make sure you pack a bikini - but don’t sweat if you forget the top half.

How have people reacted to the topless swimming rule change?

The Feminist group Mugrons Lliures (Free Nipples) has welcomed the decision.

"This is a gender equality issue: Men could [go topless] and women couldn't,” spokeswoman Mariona Trabal said.

"We don't know why they have taken so long, but we are very happy."

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Swimming topless has long been accepted practice at Spain's beachescanva

And some pool-goers share this view.

“I would go topless, of course I would, and many times I have been told to cover up,” one female Spanish swimmer told EBU.

“Everyone should be free to go without a top if they don`t feel like it, I understand that in a private pool you are subject to what the owner decides, but in public pools we have to go the same for men and women,” agreed another.

“If they don’t wear a top, we don’t have to wear one either.”

The left-leaning Catalan government launched a campaign last year to normalise women going topless if they want to.

“The sexualisation of women starts when they are young, and it accompanies us all our lives. That we must cover up our breasts in some spaces is proof,” a video released as part of the campaign said.

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