‘Free the Nipple’ Activists Force City to Erase Topless Ban

GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images
GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

Erasing a ban on women going topless will save Fort Collins, Colorado, a lot of money, city officials said Wednesday.

Fort Collins government spokesman, Tyler Marr, concluded that “the money was just better spent on other city priorities,” NBC News reported.

In 2015, activist Britt Hoagland launched a protest against the ban which she claimed treated men and women differently. Reports said Hoagland and another activist, Samantha Six, sued the city in May of 2016.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to ensure women in Fort Collins are given equal rights,” said Andy McNulty, Hoagland and Six’s attorney.

“We’re glad Fort Collins is finally recognizing that and realizing the fight would be futile. Women in Fort Collins deserve equal treatment under law.”

In February, a federal judge concluded that the city ordinance banning women from going topless amounted to constitutional discrimination, based on “negative stereotypes depicting women’s breasts, but not men’s breasts, as sex objects.”

That ruling dismissed the city’s concern that throwing out the ordinance would allow women to be seen topless in front of elementary schools or in public pools, according to reports.

In May, the city council decided not to attempt to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and voted 4-3 to cease its defense of that particular part of the ordinance in court.

Reports said the city has spent nearly $322,000 on the lawsuit.

Residents opposed to the erasure of the law said it will erode the family atmosphere of the city if women are allowed to go topless.

“Where are my rights being defended in this discussion?” said resident Paul Vencel. “Don’t I have the right to go down the street without seeing such things? … If the current language is struck, anybody can do whatever they want, wherever they want, and they can force everybody to watch.”

However, the Free the Nipple Fort Collins website stated that “We reject that ‘family values’ are preserved through sexist discrimination, queer-erasure, victim blaming and the targeting of minors.”

In addition, three women activists who are part of the global Free the Nipple movement were arrested in 2016 for going topless at a beach in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Reports said they are planning to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court after the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld their convictions this year.

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