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Is it time for another Nude Ain’t Rude rally?

The 1998 Australia Day Nude Ain’t Rude rally on Belongil beach. Photo Jeff Dawson

Almost 20 years to the day since Byron celebrated an historic Nude Ain’t Rude rally on Belongil beach, local activists and nature lovers are asking if it’s time to hold another.

The call follows the arrest of four people in just a few weeks for swimming naked in a quiet area of beach well south of Brunswick Heads but outside Byron Council’s (recently reduced) official clothing optional area.

Dean Jefferys told Echonetdaily he took his three-month old daughter to the rally, which was held on Australia Day 1998, not long after having a fine for offensive behavior quashed by the courts.

Mr Jefferys, who is now best known for his work educating the community on whales and shark nets, said he would take up the cudgels again on behalf of those arrested and speak to police about ‘whether this is part of a regular campaign’.

‘If it is then we’ll be challenging it in some way, either through the court system or organising some sort of civil disobedience,’ he said.’

‘Maybe we need another nude rally.’

Court battle

Two decades ago he fought a similar battle when he was fined for offensive behaviour for being naked on Belongil beach but decided to take it to court.

‘We went to the local court, and then the district court – and we had a barrister come on board to challenge the person who made the complaint, that they were actually offended.

‘As it turned out, the person who made the complaint was a nurse who sees naked people all the time, bathing them and whatever. It was pointed out by the barrister that they couldn’t possibly be offended… and so the case was thrown out.’

Nude over the cornflakes

Mr Jefferys said there had been ‘a bit of a push’ by some of the Belongil residents at the time ‘to get rid of the people who were swimming naked up there’.

‘I think they said in some of the letters to The Echo that they didn’t like didn’t like seeing nude bodies over their cornflakes, when they were having their breakfast looking out at the water. They saw it as their front yard rather than the public’s.’

Mr Jefferys said he was reluctant to take on another campaign but he would ‘like to see the police respect not just locals but basically humanity’.

Police victimisation

‘We’ve supposedly thrown off the shackles of shame, as we’ve seen recently with the World Naked Bike Ride, with 200 people cycling naked around Byron Bay.

‘So why are they victimising people just going for a little skinny dip on the beach when that’s got absolutely nothing to do with any sexual harassment?

‘I know they say they’re acting because they got some complaint about weird behavior around the nude beach area.

Make all beaches clothes optional

‘But when we had the Nude Ain’t Rude rally, we didn’t want a nude beach area, we just wanted clothes optional areas on all the beaches outside the main swimming areas. This would’ve avoided this whole concentration, where people know they can go to “perve” on other people who are naked.

‘If it’s all spread out all over the shire then you don’t have that concentration. You also don’t have the danger element. If women particularly are swimming naked in an isolated area, that’s an unsafe situation potentially.

‘From Brunswick Heads to Byron should all be a clothing optional area – and other areas too.

‘That’s why I’m keen to take it to the court system. Police aren’t really offended by naked people – they’re just using the law to victimise and attack local people, like they do with the drug laws.

‘It’s important that we stand up for our rights to be able to swim in our birthday suits,’ Mr Jeffery said.


22 responses to “Is it time for another Nude Ain’t Rude rally?”

  1. Derek Harper says:

    Well said.
    I hope the Echo will take the lead as the community’s voice.
    Australia Day?
    One kilometre south of the Brunswick Heads surf club?
    Can someone make a sign saying “If an unclothed human body offends, please go back to Brunswick Heads.

  2. Ron Barnes says:

    Defiantly time
    Notify all the nude layers and solicitors and judges for a special day
    Call it I love nudity
    Too many biggest get away telling those nuditst,s to cover up
    Now is the time

  3. David Slow says:

    Agree with Derek put up signs if nudity offends go to main Beach let the police go back to work on things that matter

  4. Jon says:

    Let’s see a public protest against puritanical laws and foget about complaining about Australia Day.

  5. serena ballerina says:

    I agree! It’s time to stop the prudery.
    Years ago when belonging to naturist clubs,they included judges, lawyers, a famous British orchestra conductor…and people from across the whole spectrum of society.
    All we had in common was the love being of being in nature without encumbrance, amongst others of like mind.
    Offending no-one. Enjoying the outdoors as nature intended.
    There shouldn’t be a fine for doing that in the right location.

  6. Shaun says:

    As someone who often cycles along the beach between Brunswick and Byron, I totally agree that something had to be done to clean up the dodgy beat and its associated perverts at Tyagarah Beach. Due to numerous sexual assault allegations the local police were asked to act and they have. This has resulted in an immediate and positive impact on making this area once again “friendlier” for all beach goers.

    The collateral damage however is that others who cause no offence what so ever and are nowhere near the beat are now also being fined for nude sunbathing. You can’t ask the police to discriminate so it’s a tricky one.

    Perhaps we all just need to keep our kit on (or keep a look out) for a few months until Tyagarah is cleaned up and then I’m sure the police won’t give a rats about nudity on isolated beach areas. Ten years ago Tyagarah Beach was packed with couples and families (including mine) having a great day out. Hopefully this will be a limited and “directed” crack down and will actually be beneficial to all who like a skinny dip without being spied on or harassed by the pervs in the dunes.

  7. J Gordon says:

    Legal nudity the final taboo we must fight for.
    Almost all other ‘moral’ dilemmas have been solved. People can now have children out of wedlock, get divorced, marry someone of a different colour, marry someone of the same sex, etc.
    Almost all restrictions on our liberty are a result of religious influence. Many nations had no nudity restrictions until white settlers and missionaries enforced their puritanical laws on them including Australia’s indigenous inhabitants. Australia is more restrictive than NZ and Britain where it’s legal to be nude in public.
    Today nudity is still considered offensive by law. Why? I can watch brutal, blood, gore and violence, in all forms of media, including games, with limitations on this left to the parents to control. Show a bit of skin, which is much like the other bits of skin I am allowed to show, and shock horror! Avert thine eyes!
    The stupidity of this is that some people think they are protected by a tiny micro bit of fabric. How about we all go to the beach wearing flesh coloured fabric? What would be the difference to nudity?
    We really do have things all arse about face. In a true democracy we need to stop listening to the vocal minority whose catch cry is ‘should be banned’. In a free society we should be able to live our lives unhindered bu unnecessary useless bits of cloth.

    • Emjay says:

      You echo my views too.
      It’s 2017 (yes it is) and discrimination over the freedom of how we should dress – or undress – is pervasive.
      Eloquently said Sir !

  8. PeterL says:

    I was there in 88. My body was in better shape then and I didn’t mind showing it off. However I might turn up at a rally if there is one. I guess a lot of us are 20 years older now, so no one will notice.
    Its a waste of public money having cops bust nude swimmers . They should get back to the streets and catch bad people. I mean really bad people, not dope users.

  9. Yves Raia says:

    Of course we have to do something about it!
    Thank you all for your enthusiasm! I’m with you!

  10. Neville says:

    Why don’t the nudist mob lease a piece of remote beach that only has one road in and out ?
    Either that or tell the Cops that someone stole their clothing .

  11. stefan forschner says:

    I have been to Brunswick Heads beach today and saw police coming through the dunes with their car preying on local people who take a skippy dip after a walk on the beach far from anybody else, that’s not good for the dunes and is not fair to the locals enjoying a swim after a hard days work.

  12. Hernan Aristzabal says:

    I totally agree with all this comments.
    The police have better thinks to do,than listens to red necks who don’t have a life.
    Let’s have another nude protest on tyagarha.
    I will be there.!!!!!!!

  13. Andy Nation says:

    Don’t think the prudes only reside in Australia. We are beset by them here in Britain too.
    We are constantly having battles with small-minded people who cannot separate in their minds nakedness from pornography.
    We have even had issues with the National Trust trying to close down a long established naturist beach in Holkham, Norfolk! ?
    Good luck in getting all your beaches clothing optional. ?

  14. Robin Harrison says:

    All together now;

    Dirty bits. Dirty bits. Have you got a body with dirty bits?
    Cos we don’t, no we don’t.

    (repeat)

    So keep you dirty eyes off our nice clean bodies, keep you dirty minds off our tits.
    Yes keep your dirty minds off our nice clean bodies cos we don’t have dirty bits.

    (repeat chorus)

  15. Jennifer Innes says:

    I recently visited Tyagarah beach for the first time in three months and the feeling of liberation was awesome. I no longer felt intimidated by flashers, wankers and perverts confronting me. Thankyou Byron Bay police for your great support in protecting women and children against male abuse. Me Too!

    • Joe M says:

      Well, yes indeed, we must protect the children; if they see a naked human body, they might grow up to be doctors and nurses who want to heal the body, or God forbid, even deliver babies! Oh, the horror! Nevermind millions of healthcare providers see those naughty bits daily without being traumatized or harassing/assaulting their patients. Perhaps nudity doesn’t negate self control? Perhaps it doesn’t injure anyone? Amazing! Who would ever have thought such a thing?

  16. Dean says:

    The police need to make the distinction between predatory sexual behaviour and a simple nude swim. Its not rocket science. Some one who is masturbating, engaging is sexual activity in public or intimidating someone else with their sexual energy or nakedness should be addresses by the police. Most people have a phone with them if they truly find someones behaviour offensive then there is the option to ring the local police or 000. Then let the courts work out if it really was offensive behaviour. Zero tolerance on nudity potentially effects half the local population is clearly not the answer and police are not offended just following orders to fine naked people anywhere whether or not their behaviour is offensive. Another abuse of power and a corruption of the law.
    Police its time to work with the community and not use your normal sledhammer approach to resolving issues. In fact this problem was originally enflamed by the police when they kept fining and arresting people for swimming nude at Belongil 20 years ago. So we stood up for our rights and brought 600 naked people onto the beach at Belongil for a Nude ain’t Rude rally which along with the media this generated put byron on the map as the nude capital of the world which also attracted all sorts of weirdos. I mean we could do it all again police but lets think this through. Is this really going to resolve the issue of predatory sexual behaviour on our beaches whether or not it is in a declared nude beach area. I have set up a page called “Stop police harassment of naked sun worshippers” Anyone who want s to contribute to this discussion or has been fined and is looking for support and information or write down your experience with police join and comment. I encourage people to fight any fine in court and I’m happy to support and represent anyone on the issue as well. People have even offered to pay any court costs. The police have to prove they were offended and most reasonable magistrates will see it for what it is and dismiss the case. When we do this a few times and waste even more police recourses than they already are the police will have to change their offensive behaviour. We never even asked for a nude beach, police just need to react responsibly and listen to the community they are supposed to represent and address the real criminals. https://www.facebook.com/groups/160820774557111/

  17. Sarah Ndiaye says:

    Hi Dean, I attended the nude ain’t rude rally would again, and I’m a big supporter of the sun worshiping skinny dip. Unfortunately we were faced with a situation where many people had been harassed, some assaulted. Many long term residents- including myself – had felt pushed out and intimidated from attending much loved swimming spots such as Tyagarah and Sunrise beach. There was an active gay and straight beat scene that was marketed across the globe on social media. We debated everything from making nude bathing permissible everywhere to nowhere. We settled on trialing one spot to see if it was possible to turn the situation around. In that spot it seems to have had a very positive affect. The changes were never meant to see the occasional skinny dipper fined, but to give some power to police and council officers to move people on. While you as a strong male might find it easy to go up and take a photograph of an offender and follow it up, that’s not the case for everyone and in some instances people trying to do this found themselves in an even more vulnerable position. Hopefully over time we can increase the areas where it’s permissible enough that it’s not even a thing. It shouldn’t be, but unfortunately with social media and predatory behaviour the freedom to feel safe at the beach trumped the freedom to get your kit of and enjoy the sunshine all over – but hopefully only temporarily. It’s a complex issue given the various organisations involved as well; Arakwal, council, police, Marine, National Parks and Crown all have various levels of governance of these areas and I’m happy to sit down and chat about it.

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