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France's interior minister has defended topless sunbathing after police asked a group of women on a Mediterranean beach to cover up. The three were approached by officers on the beach in Sainte-Marie-La-Mer following a complaint from a holidaying family. The incident generated a huge backlash against the officers. He said it was wrong the women were asked to put on clothing. A press release posted on Facebook by the Pyrenees-Orientales police said the incident happened last week. Two officers asked three people on the beach to cover their chests, after a request from a family concerned about children present.
Facebook Twitter. France's interior minister intervened in the debate over bikini removal in response to the outrage that followed an incident on the beach at Sainte-Marie-la-Mer, in southern France.
Two gendames approached a group of women and requested they put on their bikini tops, according to a police statement published Tuesday on Facebook. News of the police action spread and drew a response from the interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, who tweeted that it was "unfounded" that police regulate what people wear on the beach. Darmanin was referring to the police statement, which described the officers' actions on August 20 as a "blunder.
Police said they were approached by a family who said they were embarrassed by the topless sunbathers because their children were present, and asked the women if they would cover up for that reason. Sunbathing topless exists in something of a legal gray area in France, and there is no national legislation legalizing it.
Local authorities are free to set their own rules, and some allow topless or naked sunbathing in certain areas. Inparliament said that its stance on women going topless "follows the evolution of customs and of the notion of decency," underlining that "the female breast is considered an intimate part of the body, falling under the sexual organs.
While the rules differ in different parts of France, there was widespread condemnation of the officers in this case. Many of those who want to bare all in peace in France traditionally head to Cap d'Agde Naturist Village, the world's largest nudist resort.
However, earlier this month it became the center of a Covid outbreak with nearly people testing positive after staying at or visiting the clothing-optional beach destination in southern France. Sometimes called the "Naked City," Cap d'Agde is the world's largest clothing-optional beach resort, attracting as many as 40, guests on any given day during a typical high season.
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