Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Constitutional Challenge


The Federation of Canadian Naturist (FCN) just sent out the following announcement which is important to all naturists in Canada:
The final court date of the Coldin trial has been rescheduled to May 17th in Bracebridge. Originally scheduled for today (Jan. 25) in Bracebridge, the hearing could not proceed because Mr. Coldin's lawyer, Clayton Ruby, was unable to attend due to car troubles on his way to the trial.
For naturists and those interested in legal affairs, this last day should be the most interesting since Mr. Ruby and the crown will be making constitutional arguments as to the validity of section 174 of the criminal code. That is the portion of the act which criminalizes mere nudity. (not to be confused with section 173 which makes indecent acts illegal) Anyone interested in listening to these arguments should put May 17th on their calendar. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. in the Bracebridge Courthouse. (3 Dominion St. N. in Bracebridge, Ontario)
Listen to an interesting discussion of the issues from CBC's The Current at: 
http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2011/01/25/nudity-challenge/
This is an important trial because it has the potential to change the law on nudity. If the court decides that nudity is not harmful, it could make section 174 of the criminal code (nude in public) invalid because, with no harm, there is no reason to put such a restriction on the personal freedom of self-expression.
Brian Coldin is charged with several counts of nudity in the Bracebridge area. Mr. Coldin denies going through any drive-through while nude but readily admitted to regularly walking in the parkland adjoining his property while wearing only sandals. He is represented by Clayton Ruby, a well-known constitutional lawyer. Mr. Ruby is going ahead with the constitutional challenge to section 174 despite the fact that the evidence so far might be enough to acquit Mr. Coldin.
This is the 6th day of hearings in a case that started on September 27. On the 2nd day of the trial, Mr. Ruby called Stephane Deschenes, director in the Federation of Canadian Naturist, to testify about the naturist philosophy. The court certified Mr. Deschenes as an expert witness in the field of naturism. Mr. Ruby also called Dr. Ronald Langevin as an expert witness in sexual offenders and their victims. He testified that adults or children who are exposed to nudity do not suffer any psychological harm. While he agreed that people who see nudity unexpectedly might experience shock, embarrassment and even be offended, he indicated that there was no evidence that those people would suffer any permanent psychological harm. He added that nudity is generally well accepted in society as evidenced by media, nude beaches, and the gay pride parade. While different people's reaction to nudity would vary greatly given that Canada is a multi-cultural society, Dr. Langevin was adamant that nobody would suffer any psychological harm.
Dr. Ronald Langevin has been studying sexual offenders and their victims for over 40 years. In preparation for this trial, he reviewed 195 scholarly studies as well as his own personal database of over 3,000 offenders. Dr. Langevin put special emphasis on a 1995 study by Dr. Paul Okami at the University of California, Los Angeles. The study concluded that children who are exposed to nudity do not suffer any harm. 
Dr. Langevin was also very specific that nudism/naturism is not exhibitionism. Sexual arousal is key to exhibitionism as a sexual disorder. The scholarly research he reviewed clearly indicated that naturists/nudists are not motivated by sexuality. In fact, Dr. Langevin recalled that he dealt with two "genital exhibitionists" who had tried nudism/naturism but did not like it. But he also added that even in cases of simple genital exhibitionism there was no evidence of psychological harm to the victims. 
The Federation of Canadian Naturists supports the decriminalization of mere nudity. It is ridiculous that the simple exposure of our natural body (such as being nude in your backyard or seen through your house's window) could result in a criminal charge. Casual nudity should not be in the same league as theft, robbery, assault and murder.
It is important to note that indecent acts are covered under a separate section of the criminal code. As such, there would still be ample room to charge exhibitionists and other sexual deviants.

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