Berlin removes bikini top obligation at state-run pools

Berlin removes bikini top obligation at state-run pools

Two years after staff called the police on a topless bather in Berlin, swimmers at Berliner Bäder Betriebe state-owned pools can finally take the plunge to go topless without fear of the fuzz.

Swimmers are freeing the nipple in Berlin

Anyone looking for a rush of freedom can now hop on a train to Berlin for a nip-free dip at one of the Berliner Bäder Betriebe (BBB) state-owned swimming pools. The capital joins Göttingen which, in April 2022 was the first German city to allow topless swimming for all genders.

The new oben ohne ("topless") rules were announced by the public pool body via an exclusive article in Berlin-based newspaper taz in a move that the publication called a “homage to International Women’s Day”, which is a public holiday in the city state.

Speaking to taz, BBB spokesperson Kristina Tschenett explained that it is important to her employer that everybody feels comfortable in the swimming pools. “Whether burkini or topless we want to do justice to the diversity of Berlin in the pools by being tolerant,” said Tschenett.

Berlin Paddlegate to thank for new rules

The BBB’s new rules are largely thanks to an event back in the summer of 2021, now dubbed Berlin’s “Paddlegate”, when a woman visiting a pool in the city’s Treptow-Köpenick district was removed by police from the baths because of refusing to wear a bikini top.

When the swimming pool staff asked the woman to put on a bikini she said that she was obeying the swimming pool rules, which oblige bathers to wear swimwear, but do not give gender-specific rules about what kind of swimwear they must wear, stating only that “customary bathing attire” is required. The woman then made a complaint to the ombudsman and won her discrimination case against BBB.

Speaking to taz, Head of the Ombudsman Office Doris Liebscher said that the authority welcomed the new BBB rules, adding that it “establishes equal rights for all Berliners, whether male, female or non-binary, and because it also creates legal certainty for the staff at the bathing companies".

Thumb image credit: Alex James Bramwell /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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