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Nudists fined for being naked on naturist island

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Nudists on the Ile de Levant. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP
12:37 CET+01:00
Two naturists fined for being naked in public on a well-established naturist island are contesting what they call “an unjust and absurd” punishment.

The local tribunal of Toulon heard yesterday how two locals on the Ile de Levant, just off the French Riviera, were given a warning and fined by police for indecent exposure in August 2010, according to le Parisien.

Berthy Vaillant, co-owner of the local bazaar, was fined by police for being naked on the terrace of his shop.

Authorities claimed he was breaking a 1978 local law forbidding nakedness in a public establishment, such as a shop.

A client in the shop also received a fine after refusing to get dressed when asked to do so by the police, Var-Matin reported.

The village of Héliopolis on Ile de Levant, one of several islands which make up the Iles d’Hyeres, has long been established as a naturist commune.

The tourist information website even promotes the area as “ideally situated” to “practice naturism all year long.”

“This is an unjust and absurd fine, it’s ridiculous that in the birthplace of French naturism someone can be warned by the authorities for being naked!” said Mr Valliant, who claims to be the victim of non-naturist newcomers to the island.

“If we respected this local law, there would be no more naturism on the island! And the tourists come here for that. If we tell them to put on a bathing suit to go to the swimming pool, they’ll just go elsewhere.

“They’re making a mountain out of a molehill... I have even spoken to the local mayor about it, and do you know what he said? 'Aren't there more serious things to worry about that someone seeing my buttocks?'"

The local authority’s lawyer, Henri-Pierre Vergneau, said: “the town is within its rights to enforce local laws through administrative police, to avoid, among other things, parents with children coming across naked people in public areas.”

The local tribunal is expected to make its decision in the next month. If they decide in favour of the local authorities, Mr Valliant and his customer will be made to pay a €38 fine each.

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