11:06, March 02 370 0 theguardian.com

2020-03-02 11:06:04
Pass notes  Should making fun of naturists be classed as a hate crime?

Name: Textiles.

Age: They come in all ages.

Appearance: Nice and warm.

Are we talking about fabrics? No, just the people who wear them.

You mean absolutely everyone? Not quite.

Which constituency could it possibly exclude? Naturists. “Textiles” is a word they sometimes use to refer to the clothes-wearing majority.

It doesn’t sound as if they mean it in a nice way. They don’t. “That’s not a term I particularly like,” says the head of British Naturism, Mark Bass, “because it is quite derogatory. It comes up in cases of confrontation.”

Was he naked when he said it? He was not. He was on the Today programme, and, by his own admission, fully dressed. “Naturists do not expose themselves to the elements in this sort of weather,” he said.

Where might I be able to witness one of these confrontations between nudists and textiles? There was a protest scheduled over the weekend, with textiles objecting to British Naturism’s annual nude family swim at Sandcastle Water Park in Blackpool. Some protesters felt it would be a magnet for paedophiles.

What did British Naturism have to say about that? It said: “We have a robust child and vulnerable adults safeguarding policy. It was developed in conjunction with the NSPCC and is reviewed annually.”

A solid answer. Also, it wants anti-naturist abuse to be classed as a hate crime.

That’s going a bit far, isn’t it? Not according to Bass. “These days, we all agree that shouting abuse at somebody because of the colour of their skin, their sexual preference or their religion is not acceptable,” he said. “Yet naturists still receive that type of abuse based on their dress code.”

Or lack thereof … British Naturism contends that the lifestyle is protected by the Equalities Act. “Naturism is very much a philosophical belief,” said Bass. “It’s a belief that directs our lives and our choices.”

Unless it’s cold outside. But even when it’s warm, you can’t just go about naked. There’s no actual law against nudity in the UK.

What about us textiles? Does the Equalities Act protect me from being abused for wearing garments? Has that ever happened to you?

Yes, when I wore my “Hail Satan” T-shirt to a departmental strategy meeting. It was laundry day. You know what? You may have a case.

Do say: “When will the naked and the clothed learn to live in peace?”

Don’t say: “Textile? Honey, please – it’s cashmere.”