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Chicago judge intentionally fines GoTopless activist to allow case appeal

CHICAGO, Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to a statement released today by the women's rights organization GoTopless, on October 10, Chicago Cook County Court Judge Marcia K. Johnson "purposefully found GoTopless activist Sonoko Tagami, 41, guilty of indecent exposure so Tagami can appeal the case and challenge the constitutionality of the local law."

"Judge Johnson explained that constitutionality cannot be legally challenged at the municipal court level," said GoTopless Spokesperson Nadine Gary.

GoTopless, founded in 2007, claims equal gender topless rights for men and women, reflecting the words of GoTopless founder and international spiritual leader Rael:"As long as men are allowed to go topless in public, women should either have that same constitutional right or men should be forced to wear something to hide their chests."

Gary said Johnson quickly perceived the import of Tagami's case:

"When presented with Exhibit A, two pictures of Sonoko's chest, she immediately recognized the civil rights issue involved. One picture showed Sonoko's chest with her nipples covered by opaque paint. It was taken the day police issued the citation at North Lake Shore Beach on GoTopless Day, August 24. After looking at it, the judge said she found the municipal law's reference to 'opacity' to be vague, and that if the paint Sonoko used were to cover a book or newspaper page, you wouldn't be able to see the print.

video of citation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwWg-WFaanc

Yet Johnson found Tagami guilty as charged.

"She explained that by finding her liable, Sonoko could take this matter up to a higher court and argue the constitutionality of the ordinance and municipal code," Gary explained. "She said she would indeed find her liable because she thought Sonoko should take it further. In fact, she said the municipal law's vague reference to opacity [regarding the covering of women's nipples in public] is a very interesting question. She said she's curious to see what will happen with this case, especially if it gets to a Superior Court after being in her courtroom."

Sonoko was given 30 days to appeal.

"We're looking for a civil rights lawyer to represent her in this gender equality case," Gary said. "We recently received our charitable 501c3 status from the IRS and we're organizing fundraising events for Sonoko's legal expenses."
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Italian Education Minister, Stephania Giannini teaches a powerful lesson in women's topless rights

VERONA, Sept 1 - "I warmly congratulate Italy's Minister of Education, Stefania Giannini for her recent public topless appearance on an Italian beach”, said Monica Morghen, Italian leader of GoTopless, a women's organization that claims women's equal right to go bare-chested in public wherever men have that right.
The minister of Education taught everyone a lesson with the candor in which she reacted to the paparazzi photographing her exposed chest. She reacted naturally as a topless man would have, unworried about the consequences her going topless in public would have on her political career as head of the Ministry of Education.

"To her, going topless was obviously a non-event, and that is exactly what GoTopless is looking to achieve not only on the beach but everywhere in Italy." Monica Morghen said.

She added: “our women's organization inspired by Rael, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, has the goal of promoting true equality between men and women.”

“Though it is legal for women to be topless on public beaches in Italy, we are still far from seeing
topless gender equality fully applied in our country”, Morghen explained.

“In public pools and parks, or on the streets while jogging, men are allowed to show their bare chest while women would be convicted of indecent exposure for the same act. How can the female breasts be considered indecent when it is par excellence the symbol of beauty, life and nourishment in all the art museums of our nation?

The Italian mentality proves once again to be negatively influenced by catholic morals causing blunt discrimination in the Italian legislature.

In the 21st century, Italians need not be the victims of such archaic values that instil nothing but
taboos, fears and guilt among people.

Some may regard standing for topless equality as trivial but it is far from the truth. Demanding gender equality at all levels is fundamental to the dignity of all citizens. Treating everyone with absolute parity is the way to non-violence.

Additionally, when we strip off all that separates us from our environment, we are totally true and we can better perceive our oneness with everything, feeling no separation with the living beings sharing the planet. And then, we naturally develop a peaceful and non-violent attitude”, Morghen added. “For this reason, I consider the practice of going topless not only a socially revolutionary act, but also a deeply spiritual one, capable of strengthening the peace in the world.”
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Denver, CO GoTopless participants rightfully stand up to police over their topless rights.

By Matthew Wilson
GoTopless Day falls on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in America. Events are held in order to promote topless equality. Events occur in multiple cities across the USA, so we decided to independently hold one of our own here in Denver.

We all met and lounged a bit in Denver's Civic Center Park. Eventually we grew to around 12 women and 8 men, enjoying mutual respect and appreciation without objectification. Some of the men even wore bodypainted or actual bikini tops to show their solidarity. One of the guys, upon realizing how uncomfortable the tops were, painted "This Thing Sucks!" beneath his top.

There was a bicycling event going on, highly publicized, so it was very populated. Though we exhibited no lewd or sexual behavior, we obviously weren't surprised that it didn't take long for law enforcement to appear and inquire about our purposes.

We were very peaceful and explained about GoTopless Day and related how Colorado has no state law against female toplessness, and that we weren't breaking any local ordinances. Soon, a member of the police department who claimed to be a public relations liaison appeared. He expressed some moral condemnation but admitted that there were no laws against female toplessness in Denver. He did state that the bicycle event was held by permit for the day, and that if the organizers complained, we'd be asked to leave.

We walked the area for about an hour, receiving many startled looks but an amazing amount of appreciation from attendees (and not just because of "Wow, Boobs!"). Many men and women told us they felt the taboo against topless women was unfair. Though many women expressed how they wished they could join us, eventually (as expected), complaints were made to the organizers and forwarded to the officers, so we left peacefully and went for a walk down the 16th Street Mall.

The 16th Street Mall is always one of the busiest sections of Denver, full of locals and tourists; today was no exception. Smiling and waving, allowing photo opportunities when requested of us, we made quite a favorable impression on onlookers; we received many cheers and comments of support. Members of the public (including females) stripped off their tops and joined our stroll.

A female police officer walking her beat noticed us and asked the women to cover up. We politely related how we'd been assured by previous officers that we weren't breaking any of Denver's local ordinances. The officer said she'd recently been to a Vice class where she'd learned that it was illegal. She was at the end of her shift, so she called backup and handed it over to them.

Since a crowd was forming at that point, many officers arrived on site. A very amicable officer became the primary. He also was convinced that we were in error, and he said that if the ladies didn't cover up, they'd be ticketed. We knew our right to be informed of what laws we were to be cited under, so we politely asked him for the statute number.

He agreed to find out for us. He made multiple phone calls, including to the original lady officer, but nobody could tell him the statute. Eventually, he received confirmation that no laws were being broken. We cheered and went on our way. All in all, it was a wonderful experience!

We know that we'll possibly receive some ridicule in the news media, but also hope that our appearance initiates a deeper conversation. It took much courage for those in our group to make such a public statement. We know the taboos; we understood that there'd be those who'd choose shallow thinking over depth and react in juvenile manners. We braved objectification and condemnation, knowing that men once faced the very same thing when male toplessness was illegal in the US years ago.

Times are changing. It's the hiding of women's breasts that make them a "forbidden fruit". More and more cities across our nation are embracing equality, where female toplessness is accepted in the same situations and contexts as men's. Eventually, we'll actually achieve the equality that America proudly boasts.
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