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San Francisco lawmakers vote to ban public nudity (+video)

In response to complaints from constituents, San Francisco lawmakers voted to ban public nakedness. Opponents to the measure cite concerns about freedom of expression. Another vote and the mayor's signature are needed before the new law could take effect.  

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San Francisco lawmakers disappointed committed nudists Tuesday by narrowly approving a ban on public nakedness despite concerns the measure would undermine the city's reputation as a sanctuary for free expression.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 in favor of a public safety ordinance that prohibits exposed genitals in most public places, including streets, sidewalks and public transit. The law still must pass a final vote and secure Mayor Edwin Lee's signature to take effect early next year.

Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced the ban in response to escalating complaints about a group of men whose bare bodies are on display almost daily in the city's predominantly gay Castro District.

"The Castro, and San Francisco in general, is a place of freedom, expression and acceptance. But freedom, expression and acceptance does not mean anything goes under any circumstances," Wiener said Tuesday. "Our public spaces are for everyone, and as a result it's appropriate to have some minimal standards of behavior."

Wiener's opponents on the board said a citywide ban was unnecessary and would draw police officers' attention away from bigger problems while undermining San Francisco values like tolerance and appreciation for the offbeat.

"I'm concerned about civil liberties, about free speech, about changing San Francisco's style and how we are as a city," Supervisor John Avalos said. "I cannot and will not bite this apple and I refuse to put on this fig leaf."

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