Florida nudists concerned over proposed legislation
Proposed legislation targeting drag shows and massage parlors could threaten an unlikely, unrelated group in Florida — nudists.
What's happening: Tallahassee-based lobbyist Ramon Maury, whose clients include B.E.A.C.H.E.S. Foundation, the American Association for Nude Recreation's Florida region and South Florida Free Beaches, tells Axios that pending bills could potentially be used against naturists.
Why it matters: Nudists fear some activities they do naked — which they see as healthy, freeing and non-sexual — could be unfairly criminalized.
- Florida is home to four clothing-optional beaches and dozens of private nudist clubs and resorts.
- Pasco County, home to the 200-acre Lake Como nudist resort, is considered a nude mecca.
- Shirley Mason, an activist who fought to establish a 0.4-mile stretch of Haulover Beach Park as clothing-optional in July 1994, tells Axios that the nude beach gets 1.2 million visitors a year — 65% tourists.
Zoom in: Two bills that Maury is lobbying to tweak the language of include:
- SB1438/HB1423: Seemingly intended to regulate drag shows, this bill would criminalize "exposing children to an adult live performance," defined to include any presentation in front of a live audience which depicts or simulates nudity.
- SB1338/HB615: This bill would affect how massage establishments are regulated and prohibit sexual activity on the premises.
- The bills have potential to impact performances and spas at nudist resorts and clubs, he says.
State of play: Maury points out that Florida's law already covers lewdness and indecent exposure, which criminalizes being naked "in a vulgar or indecent manner" but exempts anyone breastfeeding or "merely naked at any place provided or set apart for that purpose."
What they're saying: Mason also founded the B.E.A.C.H.E.S. Foundation for nudists to build good relationships with governments, businesses and the public.
- Mason, now 73, tells Axios that in the 1990s, right-wing religious groups sought to curtail nudism, but both Republican and Democratic politicians protected it.
- Mason says that in today's polarized political climate, "If (those same people) are still looking to cause us harm, they can do it now. They've got the governor's attention."
Between the lines: Plenty of Republicans — including her husband — are nudists, Mason says.
- "During the campaign, you would see people on the beach with their MAGA flags and hats," she says.
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