DutchAmsterdam.nl — Amsterdam borough Oud-Zuid (Old South) has been told it was out of bounds when it posted signs banning nude recreation in Amsterdam’s popular Vondelpark.
The ban was part of a set of rules introduced or re-emphasized in June last year.
Legally a town or town borough in the Netherlands can designate specific areas where nude recreation is allowed — but it cannot ban public nudity in other areas. Since 1985 public nudity is not automatically a criminal offense.
“We have been told that legally we don’t have leg to stand on,” Oud-Zuid spokesperson Chris van der Kroon told Amsterdam-based daily De Telegraaf. “We can only act if and when it’s over the top and other visitors take offense.”
In typical Dutch, Kafkaesque fashion the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing: police spokesperson Nabil Ou-Aissa says, “As far as we know nude recreation is forbidden, so we will hand out tickets if and when we encounter it.”
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Nudists and naturists in Holland interpret the current law to mean that nude recreation is tolerated in places which are deemed ‘suitable.’ In other words, Dam Square is out, but a quiet waterside spot in the park should be just fine — if others in the area don’t object. Too, the type of ‘recreation’ shouldn’t be something that normally belongs only in the bedroom.
The Old-South borough says that theorically someone who gets ticketed can start a civil procedure, in which it will be up to a judge te determine whether or not nude sunbathing is allowed in the park.
“In the end that means we’ll have to wait untill such a case sets a legal precedent,” the spokesperson says.
With 10 million visitors a year, Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is the most popular park in the Netherlands.
Last year the park made international headlines when city councillors agreed it would tolerate the status quo of, for the most part, gay men having sexual encounters in the bushes. At the same time they promised to clamp down on dog owners who let their pets walk in the park without a lead.
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