The Catalan capital, which has a sizeable Muslim community and is one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations has said it will definitely not follow in the footsteps of some French resorts and prohibit the wearing of a swimsuit that leaves only the face, hands and feet uncovered.
Gerardo Pisarello, the deputy mayor of the Barcelona said that women must have the freedom to do as they choose.
“Our main concern is that women can dress and swim as they like, that they have the freedom to do so,” he told reporters on Wednesday arguing that equality had been confused with conformity by those French councils that had imposed such a ban.
“We must respect the voice of women and not treat them as if they were children.”
He warned: “We cannot allow discrimination to go against the rights of women.”
The region of Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, is home to the largest population of Muslims and yet the all-body swimming attire is rarely seen.
The recent prohibition of the use of the so-called “burqini” on three French resorts – the beaches of Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet on the French Riviera and Sisco in Corsica – has sparked debate across Spain.
No regulations currently exist regarding swimming attire on public beaches in Spain, although fines can be imposed for being completely naked on beaches not designated as ‘nudist’ spots.
Some water parks prohibit the wearing of long-sleeved swimming attire purely for safety reasons as they could cause problems if worn on the waterslides.
Right-wing newspaper La Razon asked its readers “Should Spain ban the burqini on its beaches?” to which 89.7 percent of the 3758 readers who responded answered ‘yes’ and 10.3 percent answered ‘No’.