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Reuters, Published January 30 2013

Hot Topics: San Francisco nudists lose bid to bare all in public

NEW YORK – Nudists in famously tolerant San Francisco have lost a bid to block a city ban on nakedness in public places, when a federal judge threw out a legal challenge that argued public nudity was akin to political expression.

San Francisco city leaders last month approved the ban on baring it all in streets, public plazas and the transit system to curtail public nudity, which some residents and business owners complained had gotten out of control.

The efforts to clamp down have caused a flap in the city, where men in particular are known to parade naked through the streets of the predominantly gay Castro District.

Four nudist activists sued in November, even before the measure barring public nudity was passed by a slim majority of the Board of Supervisors, saying it would violate their constitutional right to free expression.

However, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen concluded that “nudity in and of itself is not inherently expressive,” and denied the nudists’ request for an injunction blocking the measure, which is due to go into effect on Friday.

Violators face fines of up to $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second. A third violation can bring a year in jail and a $500 penalty.