Appearing naked in public view despite being within the confines of your own home is criminalised by section 27A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (MOPONA).
The section prescribes that:
- any person who appears nude in a public place; or
- in a private place and is exposed to public view is criminally liable.
The penalty may vary from a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both. It is even lawful that a police officer may enter your home without your (or the owner’s) authority in order to arrest the offender.
What is a “Private Place”?
While a “public place” means any premises where the public has access, a “private place” is not defined in the MOPONA. Public places include the walkway of a HDB flat, public roads and public facilities like shopping malls and swimming complexes.
Since there is no definite meaning, it is possible that any place where the public has no access would be considered a private place. Since the public is likely not granted access to your home, your home would likely constitute a “private place”.
This would mean that appearing naked in the public view despite being in a private place such as your home, will expose you to criminal liability under the Act.
In 2009, a man was fined $2,600 for being naked in his own flat while in clear view of his neighbours. Several Singaporeans have also been prosecuted for appearing naked in public places like the MRT, Universal Studios Singapore theme park and McDonalds.
What is Considered “Nude”?
The word “nude” is used to refer to a person “clad in such a manner as to offend public decency or order”. Hence, the scope of situations that could be covered is potentially wide.
Being naked or clad only in your underwear in a locker room could even incur possible liability. Since the locker room of a gym or a swimming complex is likely a place where the public has access, it is likely to be considered a public place.
Being clad in only your underwear may possibly offend public decency and be considered “nude” in a conservative society such as Singapore. Hence, you may be potentially liable under the MOPONA.
What is Being “Exposed to Public View”?
However, if you could only be seen from a binoculars or from a drone for instance, this could arguably not constitute being “exposed to public view”.
Since the purpose of the section was to protect the morality and dignity of neighbours who pass by such homes, “exposed to public view” should be limited to the natural phenomenon of public persons walking by.
If it can only be seen from the technological edge of a drone or binoculars, this would likely not be within the scope of “exposed to public view”.
What about Naked Photos?
The recent controversy regarding the photo of a stark-naked man appearing in a listing on a property site may also constitute appearing nude in a private place and exposed in public view. Thus, he may face potential liability under MOPONA.
In addition, he is likely to incur potential liability under Section 292 of the Penal Code for any transmission electronically or otherwise of obscene photos and films. In this case, he had posted his own naked photo on the online property portal which would constitute a transmission of an obscene photo on the internet.
If someone captures a photo of you being naked in your own home, that could be potential evidence against you under the MOPONA. However, that person will be liable under section 292 of the Penal Code should he transmit your naked photo online.
Despite the tropical humidity in Singapore, you should be cautious about being naked even in your own home. Simple measures could be taken such as drawing the curtains of any windows in your home to prevent any potential liability.