An Ontario woman has filed a complaint with Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after being told by several hotels that she would not be allowed to swim topless in their pool. According to the complainant’s lawyer, Marie-Pier Dupont, her client prefers to swim topless and felt she was being discriminated against because of her gender. So, should hotels allow women to swim topless?

The details of the complaint have not been made public yet. According to reports, the complaint mentions a water park and several hotel brands. At least one hotel, Ramada Cornwall, has confirmed that they received an email asking if the guest could swim topless. The hotel initially said no but changed their policy after consulting a lawyer.

Related facts/laws:

  • According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, Section 1. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 1; 1999, c. 6, s. 28 (1); 2001, c. 32, s. 27 (1); 2005, c. 5, s. 32 (1); 2012, c. 7, s. 1.
  • In 1996, the Ontario Court of Appeal made it legal for women in Ontario to be topless in public.

My take on the matter

Fact of the matter is, as a man I can jump into any hotel pool bare chested while most women would not. The argument that “other patrons would be offended” does not hold because even a ‘burkini‘ can offend people. That it is legal for women in Ontario to be topless in public, has not prompted every woman to walk the streets topless. Likewise, a woman choosing to swim topless will not radically change how other women swim in hotel pools. This case runs along the lines of gender equality and how we skew our perception of certain body parts based on gender.

Link to CBC report on the story is here.

Where do you stand on this? Should hotels allow women to swim topless?