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e-3999 (Justice)

Initiated by James Andrew Porter from North Saanich, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • Nudity is not intrinsically sexual, indecent, or obscene;
  • The existing prohibition on public nudity harms society by reinforcing the notion that the human body is inherently shameful;
  • Nudism is known to have significant benefits to physical and mental health;
  • Non-sexual nudity is not harmful to children or youth;
  • Clothing, and the process of washing it, is known to cause significant water pollution in the form of microfibres;
  • The existing prohibition on public nudity is unduly Anglocentric for a nation composed of citizens of many ethnic origins who value and respect cultural and racial diversity; and
  • Public nudity per se was not historically an offence at common law, nor under the Criminal Code until 1954.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to repeal Section 174 of the Criminal Code and insert language into the Criminal Code specifying that public nudity, in and of itself, is not indecent, obscene, or a nuisance.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Parliamentary Secretary Gary Anandasangaree

Subsection 174(1) of the Criminal Code prohibits being nude in a public place, or being nude and exposed to public view while on private property, without lawful excuse. This offence, along with other indecency related offences play a role in protecting the public from harmful conduct. In R. v. Labaye (2005), the Supreme Court of Canada clarified that an act is indecent where the conduct in question causes harm or presents a significant risk of harm in a way that threatens to undermine a value that is formally endorsed by the state, such as a value protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Moreover, the harm or risk of harm must be of a degree that is incompatible with the proper functioning of society. Accordingly, not all acts of public nudity are criminal.

The Government of Canada recognizes that these offences, and their application, raise diverse views and remains committed to examining them to ensure that they best meet their objectives, including the protection of the public from harmful conduct.

Open for signature
May 11, 2022, at 8:34 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
September 8, 2022, at 8:34 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
December 7, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00937)
Government response tabled
January 30, 2023
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia