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Gotopless-Canada supports Rebecca Anne Clark's right to go topless at the beach
With these words, Rebecca Anne Clark filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Quebec. In that complaint, she said she was humiliated last week by a City of Montreal lifeguard who asked her to cover her bare breasts.
In a statement released today by the organization GoTopless-Canada, Sylvie Chabot, spokeswoman for GoTopless, said that at the time of the incident, Clark was enjoying an outing at the Cap St-Jacques beach with her boyfriend.
"She simply removed the top of her swimsuit," Chabot explained. "She thought it was no problem to go topless on Quebec's beaches, but the lifeguard was filled with prejudice, and she offended Ms. Clark by forcing her to cover up on top without asking her partner to do the same. Therefore, this is a case of pure discrimination against women, and it should be denounced loudly."
Chabot said GoTopless was founded in 2007 and that its mission is to obtain for women the right to go topless legally wherever that right is granted to men. GoTopless events are held annually in over 40 cities around the world.
"If the right to go topless is not equal for both sexes, then men should cover their tops too," Chabot said. "We need to remember that in 1996, after a legal battle led by Gwen Jacob, the Court of Appeal for Ontario officially legalized the right for women to be topless on beaches and in parks across the province. That's why GoTopless demonstrated in Toronto streets in 2011 to change that city's municipal rule against female toplessless. It was in direct conflict with the provincial legislation. We were successful in getting the municipal rule eliminated. Since last summer, it has been legal for women to go topless on Toronto beaches."
GoTopless wants to see the same kind of change in Quebec.
"Although our organization hasn't been very active in Quebec before this, it's time to protest there!" Chabot said. "There
should be more women like Miss Clark, who is bravely defending her rights, and she can count on our support."
She said the authorities should devote their time and energy to enforcing legislation against harmful acts such as sexual violence and having sex with children because as attorney Julius Grey remarks, these serious, degrading acts are what the Supreme Court defines as obscenity but certainly not women baring their chest in public!
"Persecuting women like Ms. Clark for going without a top where men already can is discriminatory and wrong," Chabot said. "There is no shame about the human body, whether male or female, and it's time to change any law that says otherwise."
Chabot said GoTopless-Canada will hold protest demonstrations on Sunday, August 25.
(More details will follow about GoTopless's upcoming protest action in Montreal.)
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GoTopless activist Phoenix Feeley launches jail sentence with hunger strike
Feeley of New York City has decided to protest her incarceration with a hunger strike as she begins a jail sentence at the Spring Lakes NJ county jail, imposed for going bare-chested on a New Jersey beach.
"State and local laws are all over the map on the issue of women's topless rights," said Nadine Gary, spokesperson for GoTopless.org, a group founded by international spiritual leader Rael after he heard of Feeley's first arrest in New York City seven years ago. GoTopless claims women's constitutional right to go topless in public on the basis of gender equality.
"Ms. Feeley won a lawsuit against the New York Police Department in 2007 after being wrongfully arrested for going publicly topless there," Gary said. "She won that round, but another round started after that when she went topless on a beach at Spring Lake, N.J. in 2008. She was merely exercising her gender equal rights under the U.S. Constitution. Men throughout the United States have enjoyed going shirtless legally for the last 80 years. That includes all the men around her on the beach that day."
At Spring Lake, Feeley refused to cover up when police told her to. She was subsequently handcuffed and taken to a psychiatric ward, where she was involuntarily confined. On the door of her locked room was this notice: If a patient poses a threat to self or others, he or she must be evaluated by a doctor.
"In this case, a woman's nude torso was somehow deemed to cause a threat to others, but a consultation with a doctor never happened," Gary pointed out. "Nevertheless, she was asked to pay $1,400 for her forced visit to the mental facility. The police were wrong to take her there, because standing up for your constitutional rights doesn't mean you're mentally deranged!
This arrest was in gross violation of a citizen's rights, and the police officers involved should be prosecuted!"
Feeley took her case up through the N.J. courts.
"In the municipal court, the judge said he'd have her thrown in jail if she went topless again in his town," Gary said. "But the superior court judge seemed to uphold her constitutional topless rights, saying she wouldn't 'be made to sit in the back of the bus.' He was referring to Rosa Parks, of course."
The appellate court brought no resolution and the case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court, which refused to hear it.
"At this point, Phoenix has reached out to the U.S. Supreme Court," Gary said. "We're hoping it will rule in favor of a woman's constitutional right to go topless in public on the basis of gender equality. That would settle everything once and for all."
But Gary is aware that the process takes time, and there's no guarantee the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case.
"In the meantime, Phoenix has begun serving her jail sentence after rightfully refusing to pay for her forced stay in the psychiatric ward," Gary said. "As we went to press, she was set to begin a hunger strike the moment she arrived at the jail. She will be supported throughout the United States and throughout the world as GoTopless prepares to launch its 6th annual GoTopless Day protests on August 25 in honor of Women's Equality Day."
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GOTOPLESS TO ALAMI ADEL: TUNISIAN WOMEN AND MEN HAVE THE SAME RIGHT TO POST THEIR BARE-CHESTED PHOTOS
Tunis, April 2nd, 2013 – GoTopless, an international organization that promotes gender equality and that advocates women's right to go topless wherever this right is granted to men, firmly denounces the comments made by Tunisian Salafist preacher, Alami Adel, leader of the so-called Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, who called for Tunisian citizen Amina to be "stoned" “quarantined,” and to “receive 100 lashes” because she posted a top-free photo of herself on Facebook.
“Mr. Adel’s comments are appalling from the standpoint of their violent overtone and also because they scoff at the notion of equal rights between men and women in Tunisia,” declared Joce Blottière – GoTopless spokesperson in the Middle East. “How can Mr. Adel condemn Amina’s action with such vitriol when thousands of photographs of shirtless Tunisian men are posted every day on Facebook without anyone raising an eyebrow or being offended?”
GoTopless advocates total gender equality and rejects any oppressive and one-sided machismo statements that allege to promote virtue and prevent vice. The activist organization, “GoTopless,” was launched by Rael – spiritual leader of the Raelian Religion (www.rael.org) – and its values are in perfect harmony with the Human Rights Charter, which explicitly includes equal rights between men and women.
“History tells us that it is the repression of nudity that causes mental imbalance and that leads to violence against women, not the other way around. In fact, in many African and South American tribes, where women have a propensity to walk around bare-chested, there are no irrational reactions from men or sanctions against women. And the same argument holds true when it comes to the majority of Mediterranean beaches,” expressed Blottière. “This sexual violence toward women is present in the most repressed countries, such as India for example, where collective rapes make the newspapers’ front page!”
GoTopless encourages all Tunisian women to make their right to go bare-chested known in the same way this right exists for all men, and to make their voices heard by not subjecting themselves to any law that would consider them unequal or inferior to men, whether on issues related to their bodies or others.
Blottiere concludes: “The love for freedom seems to be viewed by Muslim extremists as the most serious psychiatric disease there is, one that requires a radical and forceful treatment similar to a punitive fascist medicine. And GoTopless is firmly opposed to this.”
GoTopless will join “Femen’s Topless Jihad” action on Thursday, April 4th to support Amina and will invite its members to organize topless demonstrations in front of Tunisian embassies around the world.