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San Francisco Nudity Activists Win Right To Hold 'Nude In,' Naked March

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Activists fighting a ban against nudity in San Francisco Friday won the right to hold a "Nude In" and naked march on city streets this weekend after a federal judge ordered the city to issue a parade permit it had previously denied.

Lawyers representing self-styled body-freedom activists Gypsy Taub, George Davis and others on Monday filed a complaint against San Francisco police alleging that the department has violated the group's First Amendment rights by repeatedly refusing to issue a parade permit on various pretexts.

Under an ordinance limiting public nudity that was implemented in February of 2013, nudity is allowed in permitted parades on city streets but not in marches on the sidewalks.

"At least a dozen applications had been filed," the group said in a statement. "Every single one of them was either ignored or denied, every time with a new flimsy excuse."

Most recently, the group had applied for a parade permit for its Nude In event on Saturday, Sept. 26, which includes a march from Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro District to the Civic Center and back along Market Street. The event, which organizers say could draw 50 to 100 people, was intended to coincide with the Folsom Street Fair, which tends to include a high level of legally permitted nudity.

Police again denied the parade permit, arguing that the group was too small to qualify as a parade, and attorneys for the activists filed a complaint on Monday.

City attorneys argued that the ordinance allowed the police chief the discretion to deny parade permits based on issues such as size. They told the court that the city would prefer to keep most such marches on sidewalks rather than in the streets due to traffic concerns.

"We think the police department made a reasonable decision to deny the permit given traffic and public safety considerations," said Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office.

But U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg found that the parade ordinance does not make any reference to the size of the group and that the reason for refusal was not one of those allowed by the ordinance.

Seeborg said he found no evidence of police discretion in the parade permit ordinance or any city policies that would guide the exercise of such discretion. He ordered the city to issue the permit immediately and the group said the march will move ahead Saturday at noon.

Taub and Davis have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the city's nudity ban in court, but Friday's ruling does not settle that issue.

The nudity legislation was enacted by a 6-5 vote of the Board of Supervisors in December 2012. It was authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who said he was responding to complaints from residents and business owners in the Castro neighborhood, which is part of his district.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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