VILNIUS - A group of Lithuanian naturalists are standing up for their right to be naked, requesting Palanga authorities to finally establish an official nudist beach in their area.
"This is a usual thing abroad, in the whole world nudism is promoted and there are places to gather. It is strange that in the most popular resort in Lithuania, nudists do not have their official place. Probably Lithuanians are very conservative and there is a lack of young people in the city municipality, who would be more tolerant of those with a different opinion," Darius Sakalauskas, the head of the informal group, said.
Representatives of the municipality, however, claimed they had not received any official requests on legitimizing the unofficial beach. Deputy director of Palanga municipality, Bronius Martinkus, claimed authorities are aware of the unofficial nudist beach, but did not plan to do anything about it.
"We live in a liberal society, nobody chases the nudists and nobody complains, I do not remember any related conflicts. Thus [beach] signs would not change anything," Martinkus said.
The head of Palanga lifeguards Jonas Piroznikas said he supports the idea of legitimizing the nudist beach, but it would be better if naturalists would be situated further from family beaches. Currently, naturalists unofficially gather in the most distant corner of Palanga, often with children and extended families.
Behind the lifeguard station of Palanga, there is a beach for women, where women of all ages and shapes enjoy the sun and the sea in their birthday suits. Further along, there is the beach for men, where gentlemen can enjoy their Baltic summer sans-clothing. Nudists who do not want to part with their families and suntan in separate beaches, also gather nearby.
Legally, their nudity can still be recognized as a violation of the public order, even though every summer, Lithuanian nudists raise the question of legalizing the few unofficial beaches in Palanga.
The discussions on legitimizing naturalist beaches was sparked in 2007, when Dalia Mertiniene, a daughter of the former Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas and her husband, famous Lithuanian actor Dalius Mertinas, were caught by paparazzi in an unofficial nudist beach in Nida.
"Naked Mertinai 's delight to the eye" proclaimed L.T., a popular local daily newspaper, which is now defunct. Ten photos of naked Mertinai were published in the newspaper, including the first page, and at the Web site of the newspaper.
Mertinai sued the paper for privacy infringement and the litigation marathon was launched. It only finished in February 2009, with the decision of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, which awarded 15,000 litas (4,344 euros) in damages to each of the spouses.
Legal experts were satisfied with the decision, considering the newspaper's claims that by displaying themselves to the wild nature of the Curonian Spit, Mertinai disturbed public order.
Had the beach been official, the couple could easily have been awarded 150 thousand litas each, or would not have to face the public shaming and subsequent litigation at all.
Many Lithuanians consider nudity immoral and incompatible with family holidays.
Despite this stigma, following the paparazzi scandal last year, Nida changed the traditional conservative policy on nudity and now hosts a large official naturist beach.
There is also an official nudist beach in Giruliai, Klaipeda with almost 200 meters of beach.
(according to the Nudist community of Lithuania Web site, www.nudizmas.lt
â€¢ Protect the dunes and other ecologically fragile objects;
â€¢ Observe beach rules, including parking rules;
â€¢ Help clean up the beach - bring a bag for garbage and take out more than you bring;
â€¢ Don't walk out from the beach territory naked - wandering around other beaches or parking lots may offend some people;
â€¢ No public display of sexual activities, resulting in jeopardizing the image of naturalists;
â€¢ Ask for permission before taking photos;
â€¢ Be an example to others, who are not aware of the rules and explain the rules politely, if necessary;
â€¢ Privacy is the key!