SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco has a reputation as a wide-open city – but officials say that there may be some things best left covered-up as they get set to vote on an ordinance which would ban most public nudity across the city.
According to the Associate Press, the ordinance would make it illegal for a person over the age of five to “expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza” or while using public transportation.
A first offense would carry a $100 fine, but prosecutors could charge a third offense with a $500 fine and up to a year in jail.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner, who represents the city’s famously gay Castro District, says that complaints from his constituents about a small group of naked men that gather in a public plaza most days forced him to introduce the ordinance.
“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 the Associated Press.
The proposed ban has prompted several protests and at least one federal lawsuit to try and block the law. One of the protests last week featured about two-dozen nude picketers marching outside of City Hall – much to the amusement of tourists and a group of high school students on a field trip.
The federal lawsuit alleges that the proposed ordinance violates First Amendment protections for free speech.
Nudist McCray Winpsett, 37, thinks that the ordinance undermines a tradition to keep the city “weird.”
“A few lewd exhibitionists are really ruining it for the rest of us,” 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.”