Nudists take SF ban to federal court

(KGO)
January 18, 2013 5:17:11 AM PST
Nudity activists took their case to federal court Thursday, fighting against San Francisco's ban on being naked in public. The ban takes effect next month unless the activists can stop it.

Nudists holding protests have become a familiar sight in San Francisco. Outside the federal building, they took off their clothes and took on the city. They are asking a judge for a preliminary injunction to stop the city's ban on what they call "body freedom."

"To me nudity is a birth right; we're born this way, it's our human body that's being criminalized," Gypsy Taub said.

Last month, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting the display of genitals and backsides in public spaces including streets and sidewalks. It came after complaints from businesses and residents of too many naked guys letting it all hang out in the Castro neighborhood.

The nudists' attorney says her clients constitutional rights are being violated because they believe baring it all is a matter of freedom of speech.

"My clients, long before this ordinance even came up, this is part of their political speech; they are trying to advocate a clothing optional lifestyle," Christina Diedoardo said.

But Judge Edward Chen seemed to question that -- saying nudity in and of itself doesn't necessarily present a distinct message. It's the same argument the deputy city attorney is making.

"The test for what is speech is whether it's likely to convey a message and when someone is nude, they might intend to convey a message, but is the public likely to know," Tara Steeley said.

She is asking that the nudists' lawsuit against the city be dismissed, but if that happens, the case is still unlikely to go away.

"My clients will be seeking an emergency appeal to the 9th Circuit Court because one way or another a decision has to be made before Feb. 1," Diedoardo said.

The hearing took about an hour and the judge decided to take the case under submission, knowing that he has to make a decision before the end of the month.


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