A public bathing rule from 1929 bans anyone from swimming in the lake and rivers in the canton “without being clothed in a costume or trunks appropriate to each sex,” reported news agencies on Wednesday.
On that basis, police were able to fine women who bathed topless.
But now, following a petition signed by 233 locals, the authorities have decided to relax the rule, or their interpretation of it.
“We will lower our moral principles regarding the top half of the body,” the cantonal government’s president François Longchamp told the media on Wednesday.
According to the petition’s authors, the old rule was sexist and absurd. At least two women had faced a reprimand over the issue last summer, it said.
The 1929 rule did not apply to swimming pools, where women were – and remain – free to bathe topless.
There is no federal law against public nudity in Switzerland, but there are rules on public decency, though attitudes vary from canton to canton.
While sunbathing and swimming topless is unusual in many parts of the western world, including Britain, it is a common practice for women in some parts of Europe, for example in France and Spain.
In some countries, including Germany and Austria, it’s de rigueur to sunbathe completely naked.
READ MORE: Nudity on French beaches: the dos and don’ts