Catalan public swimming pools are ordered to allow women to go topless 

Spanish ‘Free Nipples’ activists celebrate as public swimming pools are ordered to allow women to go topless

  • 2020 Catalan equality law allows women to go topless in public swimming pools
  • The regional government can fine authorities £430,000 for not allowing the law

‘Free Nipples’ activists in Spain are celebrating after public swimming pools were ordered to allow women to go topless. 

An equality law passed in 2020 has meant women are allowed to go topless in public swimming pools in Catalonia.

The regional government led by the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left (ERC) is allowed to fine authorities who do not follow the ruling by up to 500,000 euros (£430,000). 

But some local authorities have still banned topless swimming for women, leading to complaints from members of the feminist group Mugrons Lliures (Free Nipples). 

Now, the Catalan government’s department of equality and feminism has written a letter to the town and city halls, intended to be a ‘reminder’ of the compulsory law, according to a spokesperson. 

‘Free Nipples’ activists in Spain are celebrating after public swimming pools were ordered to allow women to go topless (file image)

The letter said preventing women from going topless ‘excludes part of the population and violates the free choice of each person with regard to their body’. 

It confirmed local authorities must ‘defend against discrimination for any motive… including sex or gender, religious convictions or dress’.  

Mariona Trabal, a spokesperson for Free Nipples, said: ‘This is a gender equality issue: Men could [go topless] and women couldn’t.’

She added of the letter: ‘We don’t know why they have taken so long but we are very happy.’ 

The Catalan government also allows breastfeeding and the use of full body bathing suits, including the Muslim burkini. 

Last year Catalan authorities launched an advertising campaign to support a woman’s right to go topless after some complained they had been stopped from doing so. 

‘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. 

The advert released by the department opens with a cropped topless picture of a man. Text over the image says: 'This nipple is free' (pictured)

Next in the video, a topless woman covering her nipples with her arm is shown. 'This one is not,' the text says

The advert included a topless picture of a man, saying: ‘This nipple is free’ (left) and one of a woman, covering her nipple, captioned: ‘This one is not’ (right)

The video also took aim at double standards between genders, pointing to the fact that it is more acceptable for men to go topless than women. 

Authorities at Catalonia’s equality department decided to launch the campaign after two women complained about being told to cover up the breasts at public pools.

Neus Pociello, executive director for the Catalan Women’s Institute, told The Telegraph that the campaign was an attempt to fight back against discrimination. 

‘We wanted to try to combat the discrimination that women suffer sometimes when they go topless in some situations like swimming pools. Women should have the right to freedom of expression with their bodies,’ Pociello told the newspaper.

‘This discrimination stems from the sexualisation of women’s bodies and it starts from a young age when girls are dressed in bikinis, even when they are pre-pubescent. We hope this campaign reverses this.’