A public nudity ban may be going into effect soon as city lawmakers in San Francisco gear up to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places.
The potential ban is the result of a highly publicized riff between a devoted group of men who parade around the city in the nude and the city's famously gay Castro District and the supervisor who represents the area.
According to the Associated Press, Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposal would make it illegal for a person over the age of 5 to “expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza" or while using public transit.
If in any case the above rules are violated, the offender could face a maximum penalty of a $100 fine, while prosecutors would have the authority to charge a third violation of the law as misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail.
Exemptions would be made for participants at permitted street fairs and parades, such as the city's annual gay pride event and the Folsom Street Fair, which celebrates sadomasochism and other sexual subcultures, the AP reports.
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Wiener told the AP that while he at one point resisted introducing the ordinance, he eventually felt compelled to act after constituents complained about the group of naked men who reportedly gather in a small plaza in the Castro area.
"I don't think having some guys taking their clothes off and hanging out seven days a week at Castro and Market Street is really what San Francisco is about. I think it's a caricature of what San Francisco is about," Wiener said.
An opposition movement put their nude bodies on display last week in protest of the ban, which has apparently produced outrage, as well as a lawsuit.
"A few lewd exhibitionists are really ruining it for the rest of us," Castro resident, McCray Winpsett, told the AP. "It's my time to come out now to present myself in a light and show what true nudity is all about so people can separate the difference between what a nudist is and an exhibitionist is."
Despite the enthusiastic efforts of the protestors during last weeks demonstrations, any person who disrobes at the Board of Supervisors meeting will be escorted out by the sheriff’s deputies because clothes are required to enter City Hall.
A federal lawsuit was also filed last week on behalf of nudist and San Francisco resident Gypsy Taub, who was arrest last Monday when she removed her dress at a committee hearing where the ban had its first public hearing.
Taub, along with three men, filed the lawsuit that seeks to block Weiner’s ordinance if it passes and is signed by Mayor Edwin Lee. According to the lawsuit obtained by the AP, the ban infringes on the free speech rights of nudists and discriminates against those who cannot afford to obtain a city permit.
Strangely enough like most California cities, San Francisco does not have local nudity laws, according to Weiner. Instead, the act is covered by state indecent exposure laws.
Weiner added that indecent exposure technically only applies to lewd behavior and so officials have had to craft a local solution, which Berkely and San Jose have reportedly already done.