7th Circuit Court upholds Chicago’s public-nudity law against bare-chested women

The Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals has preliminarily dismissed an appeal against the public-nudity law of Chicago, which bans women from exposing their breasts in public, except when breastfeeding. The plaintiff, woman who had gone topless during a protest, had been fined $100 for violating the law. Her challenge to the law was dismissed by a 2:1 majority on the grounds that going topless by itself did not communicate protest, and thus was not protected by freedom of speech laws. The law was not considered discriminatory, as according to the judges in majority, it merely prevented the exposure of body parts traditionally considered intimate and erogenous. That the list of such body parts was longer for women than for men did not by itself make the law discriminatory. The dissent in this judgment is significant for decrying sexualisation of women’s body’s and using tradition and moral values in support of a law that discriminates on the basis of sex and gender, even though it was technically limited to the court’s decision to prematurely dismiss the suit.

Tagami v City of Chicago et al, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-1441

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