US nudists fight for the right to bare everything

Naked plaintiffs went to court in California seeking to overturn a new law banning nudity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 2:22am

US federal judges are accustomed to seeing lawyers and their clients dressed crisply in dark suits. This week brought something new: naked plaintiffs.

On Wednesday, a group of several dozen nude protesters and their clothed lawyer marched to the federal court in San Francisco to file a lawsuit against the city.

The nudists want to stop city leaders passing a law prohibiting them from appearing in public naked. The law, they say, would violate their right to freedom of speech.

"Being naked is a birth-given freedom, not a crime," said Gypsy Taub, 43, a plaintiff in the case. A former stripper turned stay-at-home mother of three, Taub is the host of a public access television show called My Naked Truth, on which both she and her guests go unclothed.

Scott Wiener, a city supervisor who represents the Castro District, introduced the ordinance, which would ban the exposure of backsides and genitals on public transit, streets and pavements. Unclothed children under five would be exempt.

Wiener, who introduced the ordinance in October, said: "We've always had random and sporadic public nudity in San Francisco, and no one had a problem with that. In the last two years, things have changed. In the Castro [district], in particular, we now have men who take their clothes off and hang out every day of the week, and that has caused a lot of anger and frustration in the neighbourhood."

Under the proposed law, a first-time citation for nudity would result in a fine of up to US$100. A second violation in the same year would cost up to US$200, and a third violation would result in a fine of up to US $500 or a misdemeanour and up to one year in prison.

The board of supervisors is set to vote on the measure next week, but DiEdoardo and her clients asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the law if it is passed until after a judge considers their constitutional violation claims.