From Iceland — Woman Ejected From Spa For Topless Bathing, Legal Questions Arise

Woman Ejected From Spa For Topless Bathing, Legal Questions Arise

Published July 19, 2021

Photo by
Art Bicnick

UPDATE: Sky Lagoon has now decided that they will allow topless bathing for all guests, regardless of gender. Dagný Pétursdóttir, the managing director of Sky Lagoon, thanked the guest in question for pointing out the legal framework. Full story continues below:

Last Saturday, an Icelandic woman was asked to leave Sky Lagoon for bathing topless, despite the fact that careful reading of the spa’s rules show no such requirement. Her being told to wear a bikini top, and subsequent ejection when she refused, may very well constitute a breach of Iceland’s equality laws.

Vísir reports that Diljá Sigurðardóttir and her boyfriend paid a visit to Sky Lagoon last Saturday to celebrate their anniversary. As she frequently swims topless, and has done so for the past five years, she intended to do the same at Sky Lagoon, but took caution and read the spa’s rules of conduct first. Nowhere did it mention any requirement for covering one’s breasts while there; only that a swimsuit is required, which she wore.

Despite this, shortly after they were in the lagoon, an employee approached the couple and told Diljá that she needed to wear a bikini top. She refused, and so the employee retrieved a manager, who repeated the order, explaining that “people of different cultures” use the facility, or she would otherwise be escorted out of the lagoon. Diljá opted to leave voluntarily.

Diljá told reporters that this incident violated Icelandic law. This may very well be the case—Iceland’s gender equality law is fairly clear, in Article 16, that discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal. For the record, no one of any gender is required to wear a bathing top in Icelandic swimming pools.

The story took off across Icelandic social media, and appears to be prompting a revival of the Free The Nipple movement amongst some.

Dagný Hrönn Pétursdóttir, the managing director of Sky Lagoon, told Vísir that the company has been discussing the matter, and consulted with a lawyer to ask whether requiring women to cover their breasts at the facility constitutes gender-based discrimination.

She denies that Diljá was asked to put on a top in order to appease tourists, but rather to find a “golden medium” between traditional and other viewpoints. “It was just a less risky decision and we made the decision at that time,” Dagný said. “So we need to see whether that had been the right decision or not.”

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