Women sue city over topless ban, calling it discriminatory

AP News
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Posted: May 31, 2016 6:01 PM

DENVER (AP) — A growing movement to remove laws against women going topless is headed to court in Colorado.

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges Fort Collins' indecency code, which makes it a crime for women but not men to show their nipples.

The Fort Collins City Council voted unanimously last year to keep a law that prohibits the display of female breasts, rejecting a growing movement to remove gender-specific indecency codes.

The hometown of Colorado State University did make an exception for nursing mothers. But otherwise it remains a $250 fine for a woman over the age of 10 to display her breast "below the top of the nipple."

Two women suing Fort Collins say the law is sexist.

"Hey, my body is not indecent if his is not indecent," said Brittiany Hoagland.

Hoagland and fellow plaintiff Samantha Six seek an injunction against the law.

"If a man is allowed to do it, so should I," Six said of going topless.

Fort Collins spokesman David Young said in an email that the city is "evaluating its response" to the lawsuit and has no further comment.

Other Colorado cities, including Boulder, Denver and Vail, have removed gender-specific language in their indecency codes. Indecency codes are largely local, with very few states having laws on the books banning the exposure of female breasts.

A federal judge in Chicago recently ruled against a woman challenging that city's law against women displaying nipples. The woman fought a $150 fine tor participating in a 2014 "Go Topless Day" protest near Lake Michigan.

Gender-specific indecency laws have gotten increased attention in recent years. A 2014 film "Free The Nipple" explored the topic, and celebrities including Rihanna and Miley Cyrus have clashed with social media sites for censoring photos showing their nipples, while not removing photos of topless men.

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Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt