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Avoid a bum steer this summer: here's what Australian law says about public nudity

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21.01.2019

The warm days of summer are almost upon us. Nudity on some Australian beaches is inevitable. But exactly how much of our flesh can we bare, and when, and where?

It should surprise no-one that, when it comes to the law and naked bodies, context is everything. The man who strips off for the sauna at the gym without any repercussions could be subject to a fine of many thousands of dollars if, a few hours later, he were to streak across the MCG during the cricket. The woman who plays beach volleyball in her birthday suit at New South Wales’ oldest nudist stretch of sand, Lady Bay Beach, without legal consequences could be fined an hour later should she not put on some form of covering when walking back to her car.

Whether someone’s personal exposure attracts the attention of law enforcement depends upon what is deemed by officers to be an “obscene” act or “indecent” exposure. The words of the Office of Film and Literature Classification can be adopted usefully here. To determine whether something (or someone) is obscene or indecent, police must take into account the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.

While there are many prosecutions around the country each year for lewd behaviour generally (which would include........

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