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San Francisco eyes public nudity ban

The city famous for its 'anything goes' attitude might ban public nudity.

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SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 28: A woman rides on top of a man dressed as a bondage horse at the 20th Annual Folsom Street Fair September 28, 2003 in San Francisco, California. The city is voting on a proposed ban on public nudity that would exempt public events like the annual gay pride parade and the Folsom Street Fair. (JUSTIN SULLIVAN/AFP/Getty Images)

San Francisco is famous for its "anything goes" atmosphere, thriving gay scene and festive parades but after Tuesday you may have to enjoy it all with your clothes on. 

City lawmakers are scheduled to vote on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the city's famously gay Castro District, introduced the proposal that 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.

The vote comes at the end of a two-year fight between the city and a group of men known as the "Naked Guys" who let it all hang out in the markets of the Castro, including the area's Jane Warner Plaza. 

Wiener said that constituents have been complaining about the group of men who regularly walk the streets in the buff. 

"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 told AP. 

The ban would still allow nakedness during street fairs and parades, including the city's famous annual gay pride parade and the world's biggest fetish festival, the Folsom Street Fair, where participants often wear a pair of black leather chaps and nothing else. 

Last year, Weiner successfully passed a ban on nudity in restaurants and required nudists to put something between their cheeks and public seating. Instead of decreasing the amount of public nudity, the LA Times reports it had the opposite effect and the number of naked neighbors grew. 

In early October, Weiner proposed the stricter ban that would prohibit the Naked Guys from baring it all, calling it legislation "I was hoping that I would never have to introduce." 

"Jane Warner Plaza is the only usable public plaza in the Castro," he said during the Board of Supervisors meeting. "It is our town square. And it has become dominated just about every afternoon by one group.... The Castro is not about a group of men exposing themselves every day."

Pro-nudity activists have been busy fighting the ban and staged a nude-in outside of City Hall last week. 

"We are here today in response to an attack on our fundamental freedom, our freedom to be ourselves in our own city," rally organizer Gypsy Taub told supporters.

Taub, herself in the nude, held up signs saying "Nudity is Natural" and "Nude is not Lewd", reports Reuters. 

Attorney Christina DiEdoardo filed a lawsuit on behalf of the nudists saying the ban violates their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under law.

"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 unconstitutionally."

If the ban passes, first-time naked offenders would be subject to a penalty of a $100 fine, but AP reports that prosecutors would be able to charge a third violation as a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121119/san-francisco-eyes-public-nudity-ban