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Burkinis should be allowed in public pools, Non-Discrimination Ombudsman says

The ombudsman said banning the swimsuits is gender- and religion-based discrimination.

Musliminaisen uimapuku burkini
Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Kirsi Pimiä, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has recommended that Finland's public swimming pools should permit the use of burkinis, the body-covering bathing suits sometimes used by Muslim women.

Pimiä said she became aware of cases of burkini-wearing women having been turned away from public swimming pools, even though the facilities were advised to allow the swimsuits.

In 2017, several swimming-related organisations - including the Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation and Aquatics Finland - also recommended that burkinis should be permitted in the country's swimming halls.

"From the point of view of laws on discrimination, it's problematic that not all swimming pools permit the use of burkinis. Some Muslim women use burkinis as bathing suits and a ban can amount to discrimination on the grounds of religion and gender," Pimiä said.

Pimiä added that public pools should also provide private showering facilities in order to promote equality among all segments of society - including those with disabilities and illnesses or sexual minorities.

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