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Swiss heartland voters ban nude hiking in Alps

HARRY ROSENBAUM   04/26/09 09:48 PM ET   AP

Nude Hiking

APPENZELL, Switzerland — Voters in the heart of the Swiss Alps on Sunday passed legislation banning naked hiking after dozens of mostly German nudists started rambling through their picturesque region.

By a show of hands citizens of the tiny canton (state) of Appenzell Inner Rhodes voted overwhelmingly at their traditional open-air annual assembly to impose a 200 Swiss franc ($176) fine on violators.

Only a scattering of people on Sunday opposed the ban on the back-to-nature activity that took off last autumn when naked hikers _ primarily Germans _ started showing up in eastern Switzerland.

The cantonal government recommended the ban after citizens objected to encountering walkers wearing nothing but hiking boots and socks.

"The reactions of the population have shown that such appearances over a large area are perceived as thoroughly disturbing and irritating," the government said in a statement.

A similar legal move is expected in neighboring Appenzell Outer Rhodes with legislation being prepared against "this shameless behavior."

German Web sites promoting the activity describe it as "a special experience of nature, free and healthy" and said nude walking in the Alps has roots in antiquity.

The verdant Appenzell region has been regarded as a favorite, with trails the nudists regarded as off the beaten path.

The German sites also promote walks in France and in regions of Germany, where public nudity has roots going back to the 18th century through a movement that has come to be called "Free Body Culture." Nudism in more conservative areas of Switzerland is less common.

A similar legal move is expected in neighboring Appenzell Outer Rhodes. The nationalist Swiss People's Party has advised the cantonal parliament it is preparing legislation against "this shameless behavior."

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Filed by Anya Strzemien  |