Women in Berlin can now swim topless in the city’s public pools if they choose to – just as men can.
As well as being hailed as a step forward for gender equality in the German capital, the measure introduced this week is symptomatic of Germany’s love of Freikoerperkultur – literally translated as ‘free body culture’ – which has its roots in the late 19th century.
Berlin’s authorities took action after a female swimmer said she was prevented from attending one of the city’s pools without covering her chest in December 2022. The woman lodged a complaint with the city’s ombudsman’s office at the Senate Department for Justice, Diversity and Anti-Discrimination.
Authorities agreed that the woman had been a victim of discrimination and this week said that all visitors to Berlin’s pools, including women and those who identify as non-binary, are permitted to go topless.
It follows a similar incident at a Berlin water park in the summer of 2021. French woman Gabrielle Lebreton sought financial compensation from the city after security guards ordered her to leave the premise when she refused to cover up her breasts.
Berlin’s state government confirmed the move in a press release Thursday. “As a result of a successful discrimination complaint, the Berlin bathing establishments will in future apply their house and bathing regulations in a gender-equitable manner,” the statement reads.