Is it Legal for a Woman to be Shirtless in Alberta?
The matter of public nudity is handled at the Federal level in Canada. It is a criminal matter that extends across the country, not just Alberta.
Is it Legal for a Woman to be Shirtless in Alberta, Canada? Nudity in public is currently illegal everywhere in Canada. Section 174 of the Canadian Criminal Code makes it illegal to be nude in a public place, or in a private place that can be seen by the the public. There are petitions by activist groups attempting to get the law removed or changed.
Section 174 of the Canadian Criminal Code
The law is a bit vague and leaves the door open for interpretation on a few issues.
Some people fighting for a change to the law have argued it is too vague and violates certain rights and freedoms. For instance, the wording might suggest you are a criminal if you are nude in your home and someone can see you in the window.
The issue of women being shirtless, the question we are discussing here, is not cut and dry according to the law. At least not when it comes to enforcement.
By the letter of the law, it would be a crime for a woman to be bare chested in public. It would come down to the environment where it happened, and whether or not someone made a complaint. If the nudity was coupled with other activities that are criminal or a nuisance to the public, there would likely be a complaint by a member of the public, and you would be charged accordingly.
Here is the nudity law from the Canadian Criminal Code:
- 174 (1) Every one who, without lawful excuse,
- (a) is nude in a public place, or
- (b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property, whether or not the property is his own,is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
The second section gives a broad definition of nudity:
(2) For the purposes of this section, a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.
This is a broad definition of nude as it uses words like ”offend” and ”decency”. It is expected that you use common sense.
If a woman walked shirtless through a crowded mall, or around a public beach, especially where there is children, there would likely be a problem. People would complain, and by the letter of this law, you could face criminal consequences.
- Public nudity is a crime in Canada according to section 174 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
- Nudity is defined in the law as ”a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.”
- While aspects of the law seem vague and broad reaching, common sense plays a role in this issue.
- There are activist groups with petitions who have been trying to remove this law or have it changed.