Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nude jogging ruled legal in New Zealand

The right to go jogging in the nude has been upheld by the High Court in New Zealand. Andrew Lyall Pointon, 47, was wearing only a pair of shoes when he was spotted by a woman while running at 8.30am in a forest near Tauranga in August last year. The woman, who was walking her dog, was so offended and threatened by what she had seen that she vowed not to return to the Oropi Bike Park. She lodged a complaint with police and three days later Mr Pointon was arrested as he emerged naked from the forest after another run. He was charged with offensive behaviour and found guilty in Tauranga District Court last December.

An appeal was thrown out in June, but a second appeal has now been upheld by Justice Paul Heath in the High Court at Tauranga. "If it was [offensive] then God wouldn't have given us genitals," Mr Pointon said. "It is a win for all libertarians and a setback for all conservatives in the country." However, Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said he was disappointed with Justice Heath's decision, which showed "double standards". "Is it OK for someone to streak through his courtroom? He'd be the first one to put them in the cells."

Mr Pointon - a naturist for more than two decades - lashed out at the woman who complained to police. "It's just ludicrous. Has this person got nothing better to do than wasting everyone's time? All she saw was a naked man running through the bush. It was just a fleeting moment, which has cost us all. It just shows that it was a stupid decision by police to go ahead . . . and charge me for something totally irrelevant." Justice Heath said Mr Pointon was a genuine naturist who had chosen a time of day when it was unlikely children would be on the track. "While the complainant was discomforted by the sight of Mr Pointon and . . . instinctively responded to that feeling, the encounter was brief."

Mr Pointon's lawyer Michael Bott - a specialist in human rights and civil liberties - said he could not understand why women were able to ride naked down the main street of Tauranga during the Boobs on Bikes event without intervention and yet days later his client was arrested going about his business in a remote area: "It just appears inconsistent and grossly sexist." If the original decision went unchallenged, it would have had a "chilling effect" on freedom of expression, he said. "Police should learn to become more tolerant and learn New Zealand is becoming increasing tolerant of a . . . variety of lifestyle choices and expressions." Mr McCoskrie said there was a time and a place for nakedness and it was not in a public place. "It's offensive to most of the population - that's why most of us wear clothes."

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