Nudists listen to speakers during a rally against the 'Wiener bill', which addresses nudity in parts of the city in San Francisco, California. Photo by Reuters.
Two dozen pro-nudity activists wearing little but their
righteous indignation assembled on the steps of San Francisco
City Hall to protest a proposed municipal ban on public
"We are here today in response to an attack on our
fundamental freedom, our freedom to be ourselves in our own
city," disrobed rally organiser Gypsy Taub declared as her
fellow activists displayed signs saying, "Nudity is Natural"
and "Nude is not Lewd."
Local politicians in the famously tolerant city, where men in
particular are known to frequently parade undressed through
the streets of the predominantly gay Castro District, are
considering a law to criminalise nudity on streets, sidewalks
A hearing on measure by the city's Board of Supervisors is
scheduled for week.
Following the protest, attorney Christina DiEdoardo filed
suit on behalf of the nudists seeking to block the proposed
nudity ban from enactment.
She contends that a prohibition on public nakedness would
deprive her five clients, one of them a former mayoral
candidate who ran on a nudist platform, of their
constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection
"The city is getting into trying to legislate and criminally
enforce a dress code," she told Reuters. "My clients are
trying to save the Board of Supervisors from acting
"Nudophobic bigotry has now taken root here in San
Francisco," Rusty Mills, 69, stripped down to his tanned
birthday suit, told his fellow demonstrators as they stood in
the sunshine of an unseasonably warm, 21degC fall day.
GRIN AND BEAR IT
The nude protesters, including one using a cane and another
in a wheelchair, walked with DiEdoardo two blocks to the
federal courthouse, where an officer refused to allow them to
enter disrobed. DiEdoardo, who was fully clothed, went inside
to file the court papers.
On the way back to City Hall, elementary school children
playing on a schoolyard gawked and pointed at the naked
Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced the proposal to curb
undressing after residents complained about a daily gathering
of naked men in Jane Warner Plaza, a square in the Castro
District. He called the lawsuit a baseless "publicity stunt."
"There's always been occasional public nudity in San
Francisco. Over the last two years it's gone from being this
quirky, occasional thing to an obnoxious, over-the-top
thing," Wiener said in an interview.
"A lot of people who live in the neighbourhood are just sick
of the fact that seven days a week there are men taking their
pants off and displaying their genitals on our sidewalks and
plaza," he added.
Under the proposed law, which critics dubbed the "Wiener
bill," nudity would still be allowed at permitted parades,
fairs and festivals, as well as on designated nude beaches.
Violators would be fined up to $US100 for a first offence and
$US200 for a second. Three-time offenders would face up to a
year in jail and a $US500 fine.
San Francisco last year began requiring nudists to cover
their buttocks in public and to wear clothes in restaurants.
Residents say the restrictions only incited the so-called
Naked Guys to grow more exhibitionist.
During a hearing before a committee of supervisors last week,
Taub, 43, extolled the benefits of going nude, then pulled
her dress over her head, threw it on the floor and waved to
"We refuse to go back to the dark ages of body shame and
sexual repression," she said, standing completely naked,
except for socks and sandals, in front of a lectern. As a
sheriff's deputy escorted her from the chamber, the nude
mother of three screamed, "Long live body freedom."
Dan Glazer, owner of the Hot Cookie, a Castro bakery known
for genital-shaped cookies, expressed mixed emotions about
the proposed ban.
He said tourists flock to the area to see the Naked Guys and
snap pictures, and probably have helped his business. He also
said he would hate to see limited police resources used to
enforce a nudity ban.
On the other hand, he said, the nudists have crossed the line
into an irritating form of exhibitionism, and were "taking
advantage of our neighbourhood's openness, of the gay