Nudists’ plea for tolerance

Naturists are trying to convince the authorities to give them more opportunities to live in the way they believe God intended – without clothes – and attract a new kind of tourist to Portugal.

The country’s naturist movement, the 1000-strong Federação Portuguesa de Naturismo (FPN – Portuguese Naturalist Association) was founded in 1977 and attracts members of all ages. Pedro Cardoso, 23, joined the naturist movement at the beginning of the year in a bid to maintain greater equilibrium between his physical and mental health. Miriam Ferreira, 37, has been a naturist since she was 14 in order to be closer to nature. “Naturism is a philosophy of life. It is one of the best relaxation therapies available and has a tremendously positive psychological effect,” she says.

Cardoso was one of the recent attendees at an FPN meeting on Praia do Slato in Porto Côvo, where members celebrated their lifestyle. Cardoso says he joined the movement because he considers that “it is important to break pre-determined cultural attitudes that oppress people”.

Where to bare

The president of the FPN, Laurindo Correia, laments the lack of opportunities for naturists in Portugal and considers that the country has the potential to develop a new tourist market via the creation of more nudist parks. “The Federation is constantly asked by foreigners to indicate places in Portugal where they can practice naturism,” he says. Loureiro is calling on municipal authorities to start considering naturism as a lucrative new niche in the tourist market.

Some local câmaras have responded to the call of the naturists. Since January 2001, naturalists have been able to use a swimming pool in Penha de França, in the north of the country. On the second Saturday of every month, from October through to May, they can practice nude swimming in the heated pools for two hours.

Miriam Ferreira, also a keen environmentalist, regularly visits the pool with her husband and two sons: “To be a naturist is not a question of exhibitionism, but a question of hygiene and comfort,” she maintains. She laments that, in Portugal, naturists are seen as strange or “defective” in some way, and usually visits nudist colonies in Spain and France instead.

Aside from certain specified pools and gymnasiums, nudism is permitted on the beaches of Bela Vista, Caparica, Meco, Sesimbra, Porto Côvo and Tavira Island in the Algarve. There are also two nudist campsites, one situated in Oliveira do Hospital and the other in the Algarve, near Lagos.

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