Britain’s Naked Rambler Denied the Right to Nudity


Though naturalists and nudists have always favored not wearing clothes, they usually do so away from the public eye, as public exposure seems to be frowned upon, if not illegal. Though one man, Stephen Gough, does not seem to care if the public frowns upon his open nudity. Known as the “Naked Rambler,” Gough has made a name for himself by walking throughout European countries rambling about concerning issues, while going commando. For years he has walked the streets from Britain to Scotland, wearing nothing but his backpack and a hat, but now that the European human rights court has denied him the ability to not wear clothes in public. Gough will have to either put on some clothes or spend additional time in jail.

The issue started in 2003 when former marine, Stephen Gough, decided that he just did not want to wear clothes anymore. Why? He said it was his way of protesting, a statement that has caused much controversy and probably the reason why he was denied in human rights courts. People have the right to be naked, as the human rights groups have stated previously, even in defending the “Naked Rambler”, but strutting around in a birthday suit in public just makes people uncomfortable. That is why the world has things like nudist colonies and nude beaches, designated places where one can go if they just do not desire to wear clothes. However, in Gough’s case his want to be naked has nothing to do with his idea of nude rights but rather it is a means to protest issues that Gough does not agree with. Britain’s “Naked Rambler” just wants to be heard (though more often he is seen).

But now the headlines state that Gough could be facing a lifetime of imprisonment if he chooses to follow the course of action that has deemed him Britain’s “Naked Rambler.” As Gough has already faced much time behind bars for the previous actions that he took, now that the court has denied him the rights that he was asking for, which would let him be naked in public as he protests, the sentences for Gough’s actions could be longer, in the future. Having spent almost a total of seven years, previously, for walking the streets nude, and ignoring police when they ask him to put on clothes, Gough is well aware of the consequences to his actions. But, in fact, even while he was behind bars, the officers still stated that he refused to wear clothes, forcing them to remove him from general population and seclude him. Gough, even refused to wear clothes while in court, in which the officer of the court threatened to hold him in contempt.

So what exactly is Gough protesting? Well, unless a person sees the “Naked Rambler” walking the streets between Britain and Scotland, they may not ever know exactly what Gough is protesting. However, his rambles and nudity have caused him to be recommended to a psychiatrist, according to sources. The court called his nudity “antisocial conduct” and stated that his actions are not protected by the law. They stated that there are many other ways that he could have chosen to use for his protest and to express his opinions. Instead, he was convicted over 30 times for his refusal to wear clothes.

Though the “Naked Rambler” has recently been released from jail, many wonder how long it will be before he is back in, or how long it will be before he is convicted again for his refusal to wear clothes. Stephen Gough has chosen a life free from clothes but perhaps not free from the consequences of those actions. Perhaps he will retire from his life as the “Naked Rambler” and instead choose to be the protest rambler that is, perhaps, partially clothed. At least enough to keep him from more public disturbance and exposure charges.

By Crystal Boulware


India Times
The Independent
Time Magazine

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